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Shannon Wheeler’s meeting between himself and Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth at APE has industry observers buzzing:

Sunday, Gary Groth (Fantagraphics publisher) came by my table. He handed me photocopied one-sheet asking me to buy more Fantagraphics Books. They need money because Harlan Ellison is suing them. I don’t know what bug crawled up my ass since I wasn’t even drunk yet. I looked at Gary and said “Why should I support you when you’ve never done anything for me?” He looked a little surprised but the flood gates had opened. I went on to tell him that they’d never reviewed any of my books or reported on anything I’d done. Ever. He asked if I’d sent him stuff. “Yep, for every single thing I’ve done. I’ve gotten nothing.” Flustered, he said that it was just coincidence. I said “Give me a break. I just wrote and produced an opera. The first opera based on a comic book and you did zilch reporting.” He replied; “oh… we should have covered that.” I almost yelled; “Yes, you should have.” He walked away. Somewhere in the middle of the exchange I realized two things. One; this wasn’t the practiced fantasy-conversation I’ve been having for the last 8 years, this was taking place in reality. Second; I’d pay dearly for every word I said. The funny thing is, I do like Gary. I’ve always enjoyed chatting with him at parties. I like the books he publishes. I like that he’s tried to lend credibility to comics. Monday, I went to the Other Change of Hobbit in Berkeley and bought a Harlan Ellison book.


By pure chance, Mikhaela Reid caught the moment on camera. EPIC! There is no privacy any more that’s for sure.

[Picture link via Daily Cross Hatch]

1 COMMENT

  1. Shannon does look a bit more than peeved in that photo…. But I must admit I adore Shannon and TMCM and I must admit, I’ve never read Mr. Groth’s “work” at all.

  2. Patrick’s right that there was definitely some sort of a commotion on the TCJ board over a so-so review of TMCM magazine some years ago, but I believe it was mostly Jed Alexander freaking out…Wheeler may or may not have gotten involved, but I don’t recall anything memorable. Also, I feel like there was at least a mention of the opera in the news section, and I alomost feel like I remember a positive review of an issue of JAB that had Wheeler’s “watergun filled with pee” story, but I might be imagining stuff.

  3. I heard through the grape juice that people under high stress situations will resort to the practices of their primate cousins and start throwing poop around all willy nilly. Just sayin’!

  4. Like I pointed out on the other web site I saw this: although I’m not a fan of my former publication/employer and don’t read it anymore, Shannon has been both interviewed (#204) and had his publication reviewed in the magazine (#245) in a stand-alone review, which puts him ahead of about 95 percent of professional cartoonists.

    I think that has to be pointed out, because the implication is that he was totally ignored over the years, and that’s not true. He’s also been linked to multiple times in their Journalista on-line feature.

    The news of his opera wasn’t covered, but the Journal doesn’t have a news section anymore.

    I like and admire Shannon, and a person can dislike someone and feel like they didn’t do anything for you for whatever reason they like, but that just seemed like an odd and completely unsupportable complaint to me. I wouldn’t begrudge him the ability to post a gripe on his livejournal or whatever, but I don’t think this should given the credibility that comes with cross-posting.

  5. If you read my LJ you’ll see that I mention the interview and the review. The interview doesn’t talk about my work, just my life (which isn’t all that interesting).

    The two reviews were for things I contributed to, but couldn’t be considered my work.

    I wasn’t a part of the mud slinging that was the mean-spirited exchange on the TCJ message board.

    As far as I know, there was no mention of my opera in their magazine or on their website.

  6. I hear ya talkin’, Shannon. I’ve long thought that TCJ has not given coverage to altweekly cartoonists that is on par with how widely some of us are published. There’s a lot of exciting, intelligent work being done in our genre these days.

    My mentionings in TCJ consist of a diss of my second book by an anime expert who considered it too “mainstream,” and a blurb about me in the Women Cartoonists issue edited by Mary Fleener, which I appreciated. I enjoyed the issue that contained interviews with Ruben Bolling and Ted Rall.

  7. yeah!

    TCJ DEFINITELY should’ve covered a TMCM opera. how dare they deny the world such a ground breaking cultural innovation as making an opera out of a comic book.

    that’s hella cutting edge.

    poor shannon! what a short sighted dick gary groth is – and all he had to do was look at those lunchboxes right in front of him to see shannon wheeler’s committment to serious art comics.

  8. Shannon wrote, “This wasn’t the practiced fantasy-conversation I’ve been having for the past 8 years, this was taking place in reality.” Not really; the three-minute conversation that Shannon relates is closer to his practiced fantasy conversation of the past 8 years than it is to any reality I experienced.

    True, Shannon went into self-hype mode the instant I handed him my printed request for donations to the Fantagraphics Legal Defense Fund and may have gone on to complain about the lack of and/or demanded more coverage in the Journal, but he wasn’t particularly adversarial or contentious about it. If he had asked me “Why should I support you when you’ve never done anything for me?” —and what a pathetically myopic and self-regarding response to a legal issue that has broad public ramifications— I would’ve explained that helping a publisher defend himself against a nuisance suit that’s a transparent assault on 1st Amendment rights is a matter that should be adjuicated by one’s conscience, not by how much the publisher has promoted you.

    Shannon’s characterization of the Journal’s coverage of him over the years is just as skewed as his recollection of our conversation. In the May 1998 issue, we ran an 18 page interview with him that covered his work and his career (believe me, he talked plenty about his work and he didn’t seem shy talking about his life, either); in the May 1993 issue we ran a rave review of his anthology Jab #3 (“There’s a lot of crap out there in the small press world, but every now and then something surfaces that lives up to the potential of the medium,” it begins); and in the July-August 2002 issue we published another, generally favorable, review, of Too Much Coffee Man The Magazine (“With so much of the prose generally being self-satisfied and thin, the cartoons muscle up as more than comic relief”). Has any magazine in the world given Shannon Wheeler as much coverage as the Journal?

    He’s practically stated that he’s supporting Harlan Ellison because the Journal didn’t promote him to his satisfaction, and he parades this petty, grudge-holding, morally dissonant stance around in a weirdly self-rightoues tone. The monomania and narcisicsm of certain cartoonists never fails to astonish me.

    Shannon has apparently had a hard-on for me (or Fantagraphics) for years — unbeknownst to me. While trying to find his original blog entry, I came across a 2002 interview with him where he takes a swipe at me (and calls Peter Bagge, a Fantagraphics author, a “jerk”).

    I’m flattered that Heidi thought this was so newsworthy that she felt compelled to cross-post it, but on second thoguht I shouldn’t be; likelier that she merely saw it as yet another opportunity to post a vaguely pro-Ellison entry without actually commiting herself.

  9. Gary just can’t report the facts without getting personal, can he? He’ll wave the flag of “journalism” to cover his vitriol.

    His above response to the Wheeler incident is an example of why I gave up on the Journal years ago.

  10. “A concerned citizen” — Your words will hold more weight if you use your real name.
    —–
    Anyone with a lick of sense can see that the dustup between Ellison and Groth et al is a personal matter, not a 1st Amendment issue. Even the CBLDF says so. Yet Groth continues to ask for fan financial support while trying to hide behind the claim that it is a 1st Amendment issue.

  11. The pathetic, childish reactions from these 2 grown men illustrate just why comics is the redheaded stepchild of the entertainment industry.

    Most others with any measure of personal value and self-confidence would have handled this situation with quite a lot more grace and professionalism.

    Quit your whining, the two of you. You’re not 15 year old girls anymore.

  12. “and he parades this petty, grudge-holding, morally dissonant stance around in a weirdly self-rightoues tone. The monomania and narcisicsm of certain cartoonists never fails to astonish me.”

    Wait, was this meant as a joke or the ultimate showing of the Pot calling the Kettle black?

  13. Don’t think I’ve actually met Mr. Wheeler, but I commend his ingenuous response to Groth’s approaching him. Even to SUGGEST that Groth might not walk on water, is to incur precisely the bullying, bloviating rodomontade posted above. Groth has to have it his own way, every time, all the time; and if–like Ms. MacDonald–anyone chooses (sanely) to stay out of the way of this schoolyard brawl between Groth and me…to be evenhanded and as objective as one can be–like Ms. McDonald–when the combatants are two schmucks–as am me and Groth–but he more than I, of course, whaddaya think, I’m gonna be as fair as Ms. MacDonald, wakeup fer chrissakes, I’m SUING the guy–then Groth will pick as many nits as he can find dancing on the head of ANY pin, and unleash his one or two last remaining sycophants, and try to defenestrate the Insulting Party.

    Well, this has been fun, folks, but the point I wanted to make way back when this note started, is that apart from his work, I don’t think Mr. Wheeler and I know each other, and he sure as hell has no reason to take my side in ANY contretemps–any more than he did this time–but if he so desires, I would like to bear his child. I had a vasectomy many years ago, but my dear wife, Susan, has given me permission to get it retro-fitted so I can, in fact, bear Mr. Wheeler a proper two-headed calf…or whatever.

    Geezus, that’s a funny photo, and geezus-peezus that’s a funny anecdote.

    Yours with respect and a gentle smile, Harlan Ellison.

  14. “…Monday, I went to the Other Change of Hobbit in Berkeley and bought a Harlan Ellison book.”

    I’m amazed that he even found aHarlan Ellison book

  15. For the record, knowing Wheeler as I have for damn near 20 years, that face he is sporting in the photo is a split second twitch that he does when he’s a little peeved at someone. It’s something you would only notice if you knew him for awhile. So I must say…it’s hilarious that someone caught him right at that moment!

    Only in comics!

    Chip

  16. Well this is all amusing, but if it becomes another outpost of partisan insurgents, I will close the thread, so keep your kicks above the waist, sunshine.

  17. Dear Ms. MacDonald:

    Amusing, kiddo, is what it’s all about. Howsomever, ma’am, I am 73 years old this month and, though “Anonymous” (who wins this week’s award for Personal Bravery Thru Incognito) seems unable to find his/her/its way around a bookstore with sufficient nimbleness to find one of the many books of mine currently on sale throughout Our Fair Land, both you and he/she/it may rest assured that–at impending age 73–I can barely lift my poor old rickety legs high enough to kick much above even a superannuated over-50s elf’s waist.

    C’mon, Heidi! There ain’t that much “amusing” in the world en toto these days that you should fret a little jackanapery. I mean, there’s Bush, and Condi, and that ghoul Cheney, and Gonzales, and Tenet, and Groth, and Brownback, and Mitt Romney, and all the gutless Democrats who won’t just front it and say The President is an Arrogant, Self-Righteous, Indefensible Liar, and Al Sharpton, and Imus, and Britney, and…well, need I go on?

    A giggle now and again is GOOD for us, m’dear.

    Reverently, Harlan Ellison

  18. Even if I don’t like someone, or disagree with their personal philosophy, I will often help them out — particularly if I believe their need is real or their cause is a just one.

    There’s something morally chilling to me to about only cooperating with or helping someone who will give me, or has given me, something in return.

  19. Geez… I hope Mr. Wheeler knows a good lawyer.
    as fer Mr. Ellison’s catalog, I keep a copy of the Essential Ellison in stock at my store. Plus, Dark Horse has collected his Dream Corridor comics. And if you find yourself driving through the middle of nowhere, I recommend his spoken CDs.
    And I like Fantagraphics, too. They publish some quality titles. And that makes it easier to Seduce The Innocent at Barnes & Noble.

  20. It is my humble opinion that the both of you should drop this issue and spend your few remaining years enjoying time with the ones you love. Granted I am only 30 years old, but I think I’m a fairly smart person, and my heart and mind tells me that your time would be much better served in this manner. Of course what you do with your days doesn’t effect me ether way, buy hey I tried. Right? LOL

  21. Wow. And to think I stayed home and didn’t go to APE… I think I’ll go out tomorrow and buy some Shannon Wheeler AND Harlan Ellison books! :- )

  22. Wheeler is apparently so lacking an inner moral compass that he can only take an ethical stand on behalf of someone if it can be proven to his satisfaction that that person has done all he possibly could to promote Wheeler’s cartoons. Substituting an inner sense of right and wrong with nothing more than naked self interest is the sort of thing a person familiar only with Ellison’s moral self portrait would expect the author to rail against. But, instead, Ellison professes to find the whole spectacle amusing.

    I confess I knew little about Ellison the man until after he made some rather pitiful attempts to attack me personally both here and on his own site. Since then, however, I have learned that there is a huge gulf between the image Ellison has created of himself and his actual behavior. Perhaps other people should be made aware of that disparity as well- maybe it’s time to resurrect Victims of Ellison?

  23. Harlan, you need to stop suing everyone you disagree with. It’s a self-indulgent waste of time, and it only adds to your increasingly sour reputation.

    Shannon, you might want to consider apologizing before this thing spins seriously out of control– if for no other reason that you don’t want to be a talking point for Harlan’s argument against Groth. TCJ ignores a LOT of professionals. They might actually cover you someday. (Not that I expect you would particularly want them to, at this point, I’m just saying that the possibility is there.)

    Gary, stop thinking of yourself as the public face of Fantagraphics. It’s bad for business. It’s you Harlan’s suing, and it’s because of a personal grievance. The fact that the two of you can’t conduct your affairs like civilized adults is rapidly turning injurious for a slew of undeserving people– many of whom are published & employed by FB.

  24. “Who the fuck is Kevin Greenlee and why the fuck should we care??”

    He is one of the Groth kool-aid drinkers, and you shouldn’t care at all.

  25. Everyone’s ignoring the big point – Groth keeps defining this petty suit as “a legal issue that has broad public ramifications.” Someone needs to point this out – it doesn’t have ANY broad public ramifications. There are, simply, limits to what you can write about someone, and when that line has been crossed, the law provides for action.

    Whether or not Mr. Groth crossed that line if, clearly, a matter for the courts to decide. If it is found that he has, then he owes Mr. Ellison damages. If he has not, then he does not. The only ramifications here are for Mr. Groth’s wallet. For him to try to make this into a First Amendment issue is reprehensible. For him to attack Ellison on these grounds is just as bad – you may not like the man’s approach to things, you may find him a complete asshole, but he’s been an ardent supporter of free speech for longer than Groth has been walking the planet.

  26. But don’t you see if Groth defines this as a First Amendment issue, then he is the good guy, who is being attacked by the evil defiler of the First Amendment.

  27. Steve O’Malley wrote: “There are, simply, limits to what you can write about someone, and when that line has been crossed, the law provides for action.”

    Wrong. There IS no legal line to cross. You’re inferring that there is some mutually agreed upon lawsuit tipping point in society, and there isn’t any such animal. Anyone can file any suit they want, at any time, against almost anyone, about any perceived grievance.

    What the courts then do is filter out the obvious chaff (usually, but not always), move the suits through the system, and let the chips fall where they may. The results are generally based on the skill of the lawyers, the personalities of the judges (or juries, if applicable), and legal precedent.

    I mean, unless one has been living in a cave in Tibet their whole life, it is painfully obvious that there are suits without true merit filed all the time.

  28. “I mean, unless one has been living in a cave in Tibet their whole life, it is painfully obvious that there are suits without true merit filed all the time.”

    Of course there are. You need to re-read my post. Filing suit against someone for libelling you is not an assault on the First Amendment.

    Ellison is exercising his rights by suing Groth. The courts will determine if the suit has merit. If it does, it will not be an assault on the First Amendment. It will be a simple case of the law of the land in practice.

    The real irony is this – Groth wishes he lived in a world where the rights of people like Ellison to file suit were constrained. If anyone is opposing freedom here, it’s Gary Groth.

    Which is almost as ridiculous an argument as Groth’s, that Ellison is attacking his first amendment rights. Gary Groth needs to grow up and accept the fact that we live in a world in which sometimes your actions have consequences. He wrote nasty things about Ellison. Ellison responded within his rights, and now Groth has to deal with it. It is baseless and cowardly and, frankly, repulsive for Groth to try to make this about anything but what it is. It is NOT a Constitutional issue. It is NOT an assault on the First Amendment.

    However, Groth seems to have discovered that his dishonest portrayal of these events is convincing some of his duller witted readers to support him in a case that they probably shouldn’t have to deal with at all, so since this is a free market system, I guess I have to say good for him. He’s figured out how to manipulate the truth to make himself seem like some kind of martyr, when in fact, he’s just another asshole who has it in for Harlan Ellison.

    His right to be an asshole is not being threatened, nor is his right to express himself.

  29. A RESPECTFUL RESPONSE TO NAVAN.GHEE

    Your post seems to me intelligent and well-meant. Neither pro nor con, neither for nor against Gary Groth or Harlan Ellison…which is exactly what a post from someone outside-looking in should be. I mean this response to be appreciative and explanatory, well-meant and–one hopes–intelligent. At minimum, informative and well-spoken.

    About an hour after you posted–and I don’t believe we know each other otherwise–a gentleman named O’Malley–also unknown to me–posted what I think is a simple understanding of my problem with Groth. Mr. O’Malley gets it. As best I can express my position.

    You’re absolutely right, this public manifestation of a personal matter is unseemly. My wife, whose opinion I value more than anyone else’s, tells me the same thing. She won’t read the posts anywhere dealing with this lawsuit. “I like to think of you as riding nobly into battle,” she says, “and when you rail about Gary Groth, you behave no better than he does.” This, as surely you can perceive, upsets me more than all the dozens of “Kevin Greenlee-type” slurs and brickbats. I love my wife like crazy.

    Nonetheless, and I write this quietly, to explain to you my choices, and hope you will at least understand my situation…though I do not require that you accept or even admire it.

    First, let me tell you that I have sued VERY FEW times in my adult, professional life. That I have sued at all is resonant with this (which I BEG you, or anyone else, merely to consider):

    Every day each of us is confronted with situations that enlarge or diminish us. That is what Life is all about. Quiet stretches of existence broken by peaks of problems. Some of those problems are not the car needing a new battery, the company being bought by another corporation, the bagger putting the eggs on the bottom. They are conflicts with others.

    Most of the time, for most of us, they are merely knots to be unraveled.

    Occasionally, they are serious problems that cause us grief, and with which we must deal as adults. Rationally, stringently, even bravely. But NOT to deal with them offers us only a few choices.

    They are:

    1) Ignore the problem and suffer the judgment that one is a wuss, a coward, a weakling who rationalizes inaction and…that by deserting the
    dueling list one is tacitly admitting your adversary is telling the truth. Otherwise, why didn’t you open your yap and defend yourself? And the affronts eventually die off because of boredom or inattention or the death of the bully. Sometimes they are fueled by irrational obsession or self-aggrandizement, and they continue unabated. For years.

    That’s choice 1 … and for 28 years that was what I did. Said nothing.

    2) Seek redress in an adult, proper, legal arena. The law is very clear on this: there are SOME words that are not protected by the sacred and beloved (to me) 1st Amendment. They are racial epithets, alarm phrases delivered falsely–FIRE! in a crowded theater–untruths stated not as opinion but as fact–libel and slander–and what are commonly called “fighting words.” One can be silent and take it, on and on and on, poke the bear with the stick endlessly for glee and meanspiritedness, or stand up, be an adult, and seek legal redress. Or …

    …and this is the only other option I can think of…

    Buy a Glock, purchase an AK-47, procure a Laws Rocket, and…

    Well, you see where that’s going. The destination is always Columbine.

    I have finally chosen, after almost three decades of doing PRECISELY WHAT YOU SUGGEST, to stand up and fight back. In what way is this childish? In what way (except as an annoyance to total strangers who now, with the internet, enter the fray with personal opinions that bear not one whit on the reality), I ask again, in what way is this adult choice deserving of your respectful opprobrium?

    I don’t know you, as far as I’m aware; I don’t recognize your post-name; but I take you to be a decent sort of person who finds this public fracas unseemly. I cannot diagree with you. But you cannot know, not being me, how potentially litigious is Just Plain Life for anyone with even the smallest iota of “celebrity.” I’m certainly no Kevin Federline or Richard Gere or Barry Bonds…not even Charles Dickens…at least during daylight ours…but I’ve been doing my work for more than fifty years with what Balzac called “clean hands and composure” and I’ve achieved a decent level of recognition, even notoriety, for having done it well enough to be honored as a Grand Master. Okay, so that’s the up side. There are perks…not MASSIVE perks, but it’s a good, happy life for the most part. I miss no meals, I read a coupla books a week, I love my wife, I don’t kick puppy dogs.

    Yet ignorance in our time manifests itself in a myriad of ways. One of those is, say, the pirating and purloining of creative properties owned by artists in many fields of endeavor. A director named James Cameron did it to me once, and I had to take legal action. I won. A film studio stole a series I had created, and did their own version of it, and I had to take legal action. I won. A large corporation was permiting rampant piracy online, and I had to take legal action…not only for myself, but for ALL writers. They blinked, the system was changed radically, I was able to return all the money defenders of copyright protection had donated, and so…I won.

    Gary Groth, for reasons personal and too boring to go into here, has convinced himself I’m a bad guy–what you refer to as my “increasingly sour reputation”–and he has poked my sleeping snake on a rock for almost thirty years. I am a few weeks shy of age 73 now, I’ve spent what I am content to accept as a mostly honorable life, and I’ve done honorable work. I can sit and continue to be defamed and diminished by Groth and Thompson for no better reason than they are in a snit…or I can act like an adult who was bullied as a child but will not take it as a grown-up…or I can procure a well-oiled Thompson submachine gun and…

    You’re right, navan.ghee, the public exchanges are silly. I’ve tried to make those coming from this side at least grammatically correct, typo free, and amusing. But in truth, sir or madam, your annoyance is best served by the well-known quote from comics savant and humanist, Mr. Tony Isabella, who has pointed out, “Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved.” It’s my life, kiddo, and I was finally pressed to better it.

    I didn’t take this public. Groth did. I filed a personal lawsuit, for which I’m paying out of my Writers Guild retirement, and monthly Social Security, payments. Groth decided–or his attorneys decided–they could not fight and win this suit on the core, basic grounds that Mr. O’Malley GETS: its a couple of kids slugging it out on the playground. No First Amendment concern anywhere here. But Groth cannot stand up like an adult and duke it out in court with me, privately and not in YOUR face…he had to dissemble an alternate theory, and so…

    After fifty-plus years of fighting, personally as a man, and in print as an activist author–for the First Amendment with Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King and the National Organization for Women and P.E.N. and many times as an expert witness in Free Speech lawsuits, and the Rainbow Beach Riots in Chicago, and the Democratic Convention Protests in LA, Chicago and DC … well, to have a little poop take it public and utilize the Kevin Greenlees of the world as their shock troops to tarnish my escutcheon … well …

    You”ve done me a service without knowing it. Your post has compelled me to write what is now, obviously, a manifesto. I haven’t done it before, even on my own website. But you spoke so civilly, and with such obvious distress at our behavior, both of us, Groth and I, that I’ve gone on much too long. For which I tug my forelock in chagrin.

    But, perhaps, now … I shan’t have to do it again.

    Thank you for your decency, and your concern.

    Most respectfully,

    Harlan Ellison

  30. Now in his dotage, Mr. Ellison seems to think he has returned to his days as a pulp writer when he was paid a penny a word. Other than the fact that he can go on at great length about his inordinately high opinion of himself- and that he somehow manages to believe that filing a lawsuit doesn’t constitute taking something “public” but that talking about that suit does-, I frankly wasn’t able to gain much insight from his long, long post.
    Here’s a question, Mr. Ellison. One of the things you are suing over is Mr. Groth’s use of your name on a book which reprinted an interview of you which even you have conceded they own. Since they have the right to use the interview, the current state of first amendment law clearly gives them the right to use your name to let people know about the reprinted interview. If you prevail on this count, you will therefore have succeeded in changing the law in such a way that limits current first amendment free speech protections not just for Mr. Groth but for all publishers everywhere. Considering that (and without even getting into the other parts of your case), how can you claim your suit has no first amendment implications?

  31. Our hostess here just sent me an email chiding me for some name calling in my last post. I sincerely apologize to her and to Mr. Ellison for any excesses of mine and I will try to do better in the future.
    As long as I’m posting again, here’s another question. One thing just about everyone seems to agree on is that this suit is a waste of time for all involved. Since Mr. Ellison is the one who filed the suit I wonder if he could explain what compromise- if any- he would accept from Mr. Groth to bring this matter to bring this matter to a swift close.

  32. Greenlee, Harlan has tried for years with Groth; he had to do what he did, and that’s that. So, if his suit is wrong, then he will lose the case, right? Greenlee (probably a fake name), you need better sorts of friends, or maybe that is the kind of mirror that you hold up to yourself, for kicks.

  33. Readers here should know that Groth sent Greenlee to Ellison’s site several weeks ago to ask these very same questions. Ellison did not reply then and will probably not reply now, ostensibly on the advice of his attorneys.

    So Greenlee now posts the same questions here, knowing that Ellison will not reply, thus seemingly scoring more points for Groth et al.

    Notice also that Russ Maheras posted: “What the courts then do is filter out the obvious chaff (usually, but not always)…”, thus starting the process where, if the court decides in Ellison’s favor, Groth et al can still claim the suit was chaff, but an “activist” judge ruled wrongly.

    Following the back-and-forth in this case is an excellent example of paralogia in action by the defendant and his supporters. Paralogia should be familiar to everybody by now, as it has been regularly practiced in the public eye by those in power over the last six years.

  34. I assume Heidi’s admonition against name calling and ad hominem attacks applies to everyone and not just me?
    To assuage Mr. Church’s concerns, I am indeed posting under my real name. I am not going to do anything like post my driver’s license but if anyone has any doubts about my veracity they can click on the link in my name, which will take them to a caringbridge page about my very cute and very ill daughter. Her last name is very clearly given there as “Greenlee.” Surely there is so much content on that site that not even Mr. Church would believe I whipped it up this morning in an attempt to bamboozle Heidi’s readers.

  35. I am not sure why this discussion is suddenly becoming about me.

    Alan Coil is mistaken in a couple of ways. First of all, no one (not Gary Groth, not ANYONE) ever asked me to visit Ellison’s site or post any questions there. I also never asked Ellison these questions there.

    Ellison’s site, for those of you who don’t know, has two forums- one in which people may directly address Ellison and another less formal one in which visitors talk mostly amongst themselves. I have made exactly two posts on the site addressing Ellison. He had published there a message in which he attacked me for saying something I had never said. I posted a message asking him to either prove I had said those things or post a correction. He responded with another attack in which he managed to make still more misstatements of fact. I again posted a very civil request for a retraction. Ellison responded by banning me from that part of the site.

    Those were the only times I ever addressed Ellison directly on his site and Mr. Coil is mistaken to suggest otherwise.

  36. Alan, what I stated about the suit filtration process was a fact.

    Rulings about what is and what is not a “nuisance” suit is law-driven, but it is also personality-driven as well. I think it’s obvious that what one judge may allow to move forward, another would not. The same goes for the punishment judges mete out. Frankly, the older I get, the more subjective I find many legal interpretations to be.

    And the “activism” knife can cut on both sides of any issue, depending on the judge.

    Also, There’s there’s nothing new about both sides claiming victory when one side or the other wins a case, election or whatever.

    Frankly, I’ll stand by my original comment regarding this case. No matter who wins this suit, everyone is a loser.

  37. OKAY EVERYONE TAKE A CHILL PILL.

    I think some interesting points on BOTH sides are being raised here — the closest thing to a neutral site, I suppose — but NO ONE is to call anyone names or make accusations like “Probably a false name.” Let’s talk about the ISSUES and NOT the personalities. Believe it or not, there are issues here besides giant egos. If you think Harlan OR Gary OR Shannon or ANYONE is a giant jerk, go somewhere else to say it.

    The no name calling goes even for those who do it professionally, and you know who you are.

  38. I just wanted to briefly addres the logical and moral fallacies in Steve O’Malley’s post:

    O’Malley’s main point is that no litigation aimed at suppressing speech can be considered an assault on 1st Amendment rights because litigation by definition is legal, or within the litigator’s rights to engage in. So: When Jerry Falwell sued Larry Flynt for publishing a cartoon depicting Falwell fucking his mother in an outhouse, that could not be considered an attack on Flynt’s 1st Amendment rights because Falwell was within his rights to sue; when the government prosecuted Carnal Knowledge for obscenity, it was not an assault on Mike Nichols and Jules Feiffer’s 1st Amendment rights because the government was within its rights to prosecute obscenity; when the government tried to impose prior restraint on the Pentagon papers, it was an not an assault on the New York Times’ 1st Amendment rights because it was the within the government’s rights to attempt to do so.

    By O’Malley’s strict logic, there’s virtually nothing Harlan Ellison, Jerry Falwell, or the United States government could do to infringe upon 1st Amendment rights.

    Ellison has justified his lawsuit by writing:

    “This is a PERSONAL MATTER and is intended to GET GROTH & CO. TO LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!!!!” [Yes, exclamation points in original.]

    By leaving “ME THE FUCK ALONE,” I take that to mean Ellison wants me to not write about him or publish anything about him with which he disagrees or to which he objects. I cannot imagine a more clear cut statement of intent: he is clearly seeking to suppress free expression that he doesn’t approve of.

    Ellison’s credentials as an outspoken supporter of 1st Amendment rights doesn’t obviate his actions here in opposition to free speech. And his repeated denial that a “personal” libel suit (and in what way can a lawsuit that involves the government’s judicial system be considered “personal” as opposed to “public”?) cannot be considered a 1st Amendment issue cannot be squared with his previously repeated assertions that Michael Fleischer’s “personal” libel suit against us WAS a 1st Amendment issue. He and I both argued consistently that Fleischer’s libel suit against us was indeed an assault on our 1st Amendment rights. After we won the suit (in 1987), Ellison wrote, “It [the jury verdict in our favor] should be a warning to others who think they can infringe our First Amendment rights to Fair Comment by the blustering threat of litigation.” Keep in mind that Fleischer was just as aggrieved as Ellison says he is; Fleischer contended that what Ellison said about him (over which we were being sued) was false and defamatory, just as Ellison contends; that what he was suing over was probably just as “personal” for Fleischer then as it apparently is for Ellison now. None of this ever stopped Ellison from consistently contending that Fleischer was attacking our 1st Amendment rights.

    This is not the first time Ellison has tried to intimidate people into suppressing their right to free speech. When Ellison (according to his own retelling) beat up Charles Platt because Platt wrote or published something that offended Ellison, it sent a clear signal: publish something I don’t like and you will be beaten. Of course, this could merely be seen as one of those “consequences” O’Malley blithely tells us naturally results from “actions” — a formulation that merely recycles the law of the jungle as a high-minded platitude.

    Suing O’Malley for defamation for calling me a dishonest, cowardly asshole would send a clear signal: criticizing me will cost you two- or three-hundred thousand dollars. Sure, you have the right to do it, but you’ll be punished for it, and how many people would look at this and decide it’s not worth the potential time, trouble, and money to criticize me in the future? It’s a great tactic to inhibit criticism — and the exercise of free speech. Ellison and I fought against this same tactic 20 years ago, and won. The only reason people can’t grasp that Ellison’s lawsuit is fundamentally about free speech and an assault on THEIR 1st Amendment rights as well as mine is because they don’t think it can happen to them.

  39. On the other hand, if Gary and Harlan want to just slug it out here and drop the legalese, I’m all for it!

    In the olden days this could have been solved so simply, with a duel at dawn.

  40. One question I have about the whole matter is this: if, as Ellison says, this is a personal matter between him and Groth, and not intended as an attack on the company, then why does his suit also include 20 additional “John Does”, to be added later if he feels like it. I don’t know how many employees Fantagraphics has, but that would seem to be enough to sue them all if he chooses. I’m not a lawyer (unlike Mr. Greenlee), but that strikes me as an odd thing to do if this is all about Gary.

  41. Gary,

    “By O’Malley’s strict logic, there’s virtually nothing Harlan Ellison, Jerry Falwell, or the United States government could do to infringe upon 1st Amendment rights.”

    You would do well to learn the difference between Harlan Ellison and the United States Government. If I tell you to shut the **** up, I’m exercising the same first amendment rights you are by speaking in the first place. If the United States Government tells you to shut the **** up, it’s censorship. This is a basic distinction, and one you have to be able to make before any comments you make on the subject can be taken seriously.

    As for punching someone for what they say, I’ll admit that there are certain things that were a person to say to me, they would end up with a bloody nose. These sort of encounters have gone on since the dawn of time, and while they may be unfortunate, I’ve never heard them described as a free speech issue. You do not get to walk through this world without consequence. If you persist in attacking someone’s character, there’s always the chance that that person will one day respond by knocking you on your ass. It may end up in a court, but it is NOT a Constitutional issue.

    Consequences. They’re important. One of the consequences of you making the choice to cast this as a free speech issue is that you have demolished much of your credibility.

    Just because you are being forced to accept responsibility for your words, Mr. Groth, does not mean you are a victim of censorship. Just because someone seems to have had enough of your personal attacks doesn’t make you a martyr. From everything I’ve read here, you seem pretty intent on ignoring the enormous differences between responsibility and censorship. My understanding of Ellison is that while he may seem to be a litigious fellow, he also seems to have won every case he’s brought. That isn’t a sign of a frivolous litigator. That’s the sign of someone who understands his rights. Of the two of you, I have to side with Ellison when it comes to understanding the First Amendment. Nothing he’s said or done implies a lack of understanding. Everything you’ve said here indicates a lack of understanding.

    I understand your frustration, though. The last words I’d ever want to hear would be, “Harlan Ellison’s suing you.”

    You have the right to publish what you want. When you exercise that right to to say offensive things about me, however, I have the right to stand up and say, No. The courts will determine whether or not you’ve crossed the line, and if you have, you’ll pay the bill. If you haven’t, you won’t. This is not a free speech issue, and your attempts to cast it as such are very offensive to people to whom the First Amendment is sacred. Please find another P.R. angle to work, because this one is hurting you.

  42. The Beat wrote: “On the other hand, if Gary and Harlan want to just slug it out here and drop the legalese, I’m all for it!”

    I don’t know if you were kidding but that actually seems like a pretty good idea to me. If both sides are truly confident in their ability to intelligently argue the correctness of their position, why not forget the suit and just fight it out here? I’m sure Heidi could set it up so that no one other than Messrs Ellison and Groth could post- maybe there’s even a way not to let anyone else access their comments unless they toss a few bucks to some generally agreeable charity like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. That way, at least, it could be said that something good came from all this.

  43. I have said, as completely as I’m able, to say what I have to say on this matter. Mr. Groth can dance his little rigadoon till the last tick of eternity for all I care, bringing in my actual, yes I did, punch Charles Platt in the mouth and knock him on his ass, in front of perhaps a hundred assorted witnesses, in the Algonquin Hotel in NYC for making sport of — not I — a fine and dear good man who was dying of cancer…as he was in his final days. Mr. Groth clearly does not understand that kind of passionate loyalty, but he DOES understand the uses of duplicity, because he fails to advise you that Charles Platt and he were the two founders of an activist group that boldly called itself ENEMIES OF ELLISON, a group (where Groth’s persistent mouthpiece, Kevin Greenlee, would find himself snugly at home) whose stated intent was to ruin both my career and my hard-won reputation…but all they managed to do, for all their best efforts, was to lose me a few writing jobs, perhaps bring on a heart attack, and otherwise distract me from my artful purposes.

    I’m nigh-73, about 60 lbs. overweight, the lats ain’t as good as they were when I was in the Army or when I hung with Bruce Lee, but if Gary Groth wants to duke it out ANYWHERE, at any time, just remove the blow-dart-guns from Kim Thompson’s and Kevin Greenlee’s mouths so they don’t poison me from the nearby bushes, and I will happily take the field with him. He may well put me away, but he’ll do it with my teeth in his throat.

    Here? Not so much. Talk is cheap. Well, Gary’s is. I charge a steep fee.

    Happily, cheerily, and much grateful to those who have appeared here with smarts and not bile in their presentations, I remain, as always,

    Yr. Pal, Harlan Ellison

  44. ON THE OTHER HAND…

    Helldamn, folks, I am a big supporter of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which nifty organization once honored me with their Defender of Liberty award, and if Heidi wants to set up a verbal (or otherwise) brawl here or anywhere else, all proceeds going to CBLDF–which outfit we oughtta ALL support to the hilt for the great evenhanded defense work they do–I’m on board. Without reservation. Without any rules or what-if or well-they-have-to blahblahblah a la Groth. Just sign me up, and — as Steve McQueen said to Yul Brynner — let’r buck!

    Harlan

  45. Harlan Ellison wrote: “if Heidi wants to set up a verbal (or otherwise) brawl here or anywhere else, all proceeds going to CBLDF–which outfit we oughtta ALL support to the hilt for the great evenhanded defense work they do–I’m on board.”

    Do it, Heidi, do it!
    Is Gary Groth agreeable too?
    And one question, Mr. Ellison- would this no holds barred verbal brawl replace your suit or merely take place in addition to it?
    But, again- do it, Heidi, do it! I really think this has the potential to raise quite a lot of money for the CBLDF and, though I’ve been critical of Mr. Ellison in the past, I believe he deserves a lot of credit for agreeing to this.

  46. I’m enjoying this dust-up, and I hope it becomes better-known, as it’ll increase the value of the Nalrah Nosille pages from the last Science Fiction Five-Yearly (by the sainted Lee Hoffman) on eBay, (though I’m waiting till after Worldcon, in case it wins the Hugo and I can get even more for it).

    ps: The “large corporation” referred to above by Ellison is AOL, I see in the Wikipedia, though what responsibility they have for Usenet content seems tenuous at best. I guess it’s karmic for them, though, considering what they did to Usenet.

  47. Jeez Louise, I suggested an admission-based debate to solve this disagreement last year, with the proceeds going to the CBLDF!

    The suggested Place? Comicon International 2007
    The suggested cost per head? $20
    The possible take for the CBLDF? Probably more than $150,000

    Have the lawyers draw up the papers and seal the deal, for Pete’s sakes!

    Life is too short to waste time fighting in courts!

  48. I would be happy to debate Ellison in leiu of engaging in a pointless, wasteful lawsuit, at a mutually agreed upon time and place.

    But, I haven’t the slightest idea what exactly Ellison wants to debate. Not that it much matters, I suppose. I’m willing to debate him about anything with which we disagree. Happily.

    We could start the debate with his lie that I co-founded Enemies of Ellison/Victims of Ellison, which he repeated a few minutes ago (above), and which he knows is a lie.

    We could each bundle all the lies and calumnies that each of us claims the other has leveled against him and debate those. Or we could come up with a set number of dishonorable acts that we allege in good faith that the other has perpetuated and debate those.

    We could start with the issues related to Ellison’s lawsuit and proceed from there.

    A too little known fact: When Ellison’s lawyer was talking to my lawyer after Ellison’s lawyer made known Ellison’s grievance over our 30th anniversary book, our lawyer offered space in the book for Ellison to refute my comments or provide a counter-narrative. We never heard from him again — until he sued us. For all his tough talk to the effect that a man’s-gotta-do-what-a-man’s-gotta-do, we have always felt any questions of veracity should be debated in the public realm, both sides giving it their best shot, letting the chips fall where they may, and letting those members of the public interested enoguh to make up their own minds. That would enhance the proposition of free speech rather than suppress it.

    The idea of throwing the two of us into a sawdust pit and finding out who crawls out amuses me, but I think it’s an imperfect way to prove the truthfulness or intellectual integrity of either party (although I understand it’s the Ellisonian way). I’m not particularly interested in getting injured myself, but perhaps more importantly, I’m not interested in being proscuted for manslaughter, a crime I don’t think I can be indemnified against.

    If we debated, I would insist that we would both indemnify the other against charges of libel, which I believe can be done legally.

    Let free speech reign!

  49. i wish russ was king, he seems like such a wise, fair guy. comic con. 20 bucks per head. proceeds to cbldf. my own humble additional idea: crowd votes on “winner”. loser gives an extra $10,000 to cbldf. all this contingent on harlan dropping suit.

    A BUNCH OF FULL DISCLOSURES: i support and will continue to support fantagraphics in this matter if this suit continues, including on my blog (http://arflovers.com). fantagraphics has published 3 of my “arf” books and is scheduled to do more. i think harlan’s suit has chilling consequences for authors and publishers and citizens of the good ol’ usa. (i’m laying out a book of mine today (not for fantagraphics–they turned it down) that lists 10 cartoonists on the cover and talks about them inside–not possible if HARLAN were king). i’m very disappointed CBLDF is not supporting Fantagraphics in this suit and not 100% thrilled they’d be getting this money. old friends of mine are friends with Harlan and my 100% support of Fantagraphics possibly annoys them for which i’m sad and sorry and even a little bit worried.

    BUT, i would support Gary if Harlan was my brother and if Gary didn’t publish my books and if GARY insulted my own dear mother in the pages of his rag–believe it or not. freedom of the press forever and a pox on any effort to curtail it.

    but forget me and my opinions and blathering about the specifics of the case. go with russ’s idea (or heidi’s venue is a real interesting idea, too). it’ll save everybody a lot of time and money and give everybody (harlan, gary, cbldf) less stress and more money in their pockets).

    gary, are you open to this–what do you think?

    personal note to harlan: i’m a gary supporter, i’m being honest about that. but, please don’t discount my urgings on this matter because of that. in fact i think you very might well “win” in this arena. you might have a few more friends and a few less enemies than gary at san diego though you both have a passionate few-many of each. and as immensely talented as i think gary is, you have had more years and practice at public debate, i believe. but, last full disclosure: gary will automatically get my vote solely on the first amendment angle and, again, absolutely not because he’s a bit of a friend and one of my publishers ). but, gary’s a bright guy and could pull some brilliance out of his ass and be the golden tongued boy that day and win friends and influence people and “win”.

    all the above is what makes the concept so exciting! heidi could emcee. i call dibs on drawing the comic book–graphic novel?!?–version of the debate, russ can do the cover–proceeds of the comicto go to the cbldf ;o)

  50. Anyone reading from NASA/JPL? I bet they could do some image-processing on that photo which would really bring out the beams of coherent spleen that must be shooting from Shannon’s eyes.

    (Or maybe they’re baser beams: Bile Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Rage)

  51. Mr. Groth says: “The idea of throwing the two of us into a sawdust pit and finding out who crawls out amuses me, but I think it’s an imperfect way to prove the truthfulness or intellectual integrity of either party…If we debated, I would insist that we would both indemnify the other against charges of libel, which I believe can be done legally.”

    You can’t have a debate to seek the truth AND also indemnify the other against charges of libel. If you speak truthfully, there is no libel and hence no lawsuit, which would otherwise be frivolous.

  52. Correction: I should have said, “SLANDER” in place of “LIBEL”, as “SLANDER” is an utterance and “LIBEL” is written.

  53. You can’t have a truly no holds barred debate if both parties have lawyers looking over shoulders, restricting what they say.
    And if Mr. Groth or Mr Ellison were to say something that was full of BS then surely the other would be intelligent and informed and articulate enough to call him on it.

  54. Correction #2: I should have said: “It’s illogical to have a debate to seek the truth and also to HOLD EACH OTHER HARMLESS against charges of slander. If you speak truthfully, there is no slander and hence no worry of a lawsuit, which would otherwise be frivolous. Otherwise, what’s the point of the debate.”

    This is what I get for posting before fully alert, without my lawyer’s cap on, and for tracking the language of the original poster.

  55. Forget this public “debate.” All it does is give Ellison publicity and provide a forum for mean behavior from either side. Any idiot fan of either Groth or Ellison who thinks this is a good idea needs a life even more than usual.

  56. sure, mr./ms. smoke and mirrors, it’d be FAR better if the two would make love and not war. i’d pay much more than 20 bucks to see that. but, that’s not gonna happen. but, if this debate happens what an incredible piece of positive publicity for the comics industry. everybody wins, except the poor lawyers (boo-hoo). two Giant Out of Control Egos get to bask in front of a giant crowd who is excited about them, a good cause gets some big bucks, the media who hasn’t been all over this conflict would HOP on this at San Diego.

    Two titans go at it verbally instead of legally–it would serve as a shining example to businesses and people with axes to grind. this is MUCH better than an old fashioned duel or fisticuffs. who wants to see Gary and Harlan physically duke it out. that’s not their strength. they’re both acid-tongued world class crumudgeon spewing skewing put-down verbal wordsmith geniuses.

    i volunteer to help with the logistics. to start i humbly offer my design services (i’ve won an eisner and a gold medal from the society of illustrators). i’d like to design an old-skool style fight poster. yeah, i know it’s Been Done, but it’s so perfect and it could be used as a poster at the Con and a graphic on the internet and copies signed by gary and harlan can be sold for the CBLDF. i know it’s a small contribution but it’d be so exciting to be part of this.

    Maybe Kevin or some other lawyer would volunteer to draft the legal agreement that after the debate that’s it, final, kaput, the matter is dropped no more suits or counter suits. it’s actually a very simple standard boilerplate contract, i forget what it’s called, i’ve signed a few myself. they’re pretty iron clad and it’s one or two pages. my lawyer has downloaded them off the internet and charged me 250 bucks or something–damn lawyers. hey, the CBLDF could do the contract!

    what admiration this will garner for these two esteemed individuals and the comics community (and those saints heidi and russ BTW). then we can work on getting them to make love and do a video, more popular than pamela and tommy lee f’sure and a great fund-raising tool for the CBLDF. but let’s do the debate first, that can be the follow-up next year.

  57. Uh…I’d just like to mention, Smoke and Mirrors, that you ARE the one who just read through fifty or so responses in this thread and then told anyone who’s been paying attention to this that s/he has no life. ‘Cause these subtleties have a way of sometimes eluding people unless they’re pointed out.

    On topic, as a longtime reader of both TCJ and Mr. Ellison, I hate it when mom and dad fight, and have found myself cringing here and there from afar at both sides throughout this whole unlovely affair. It’s wounded the image of CBLDF at a time when — quite frankly — it really doesn’t need any further wounding, placed people in fear for their livelihood, made respected figures seem childish and small, and has even prompted the creation of stupid mock Civil War banners, serving to further perpetuate an apparently deathless internet joke that has been tired for at least a year now. For this last at least, no apology can ever be sufficient. I look forward to the swift and amicable resolution of this brouhaha, with any luck one that leads to tag-team debates that pit these magnificent human howitzers of bile against any number of more deserving targets, in or outside the comics industry (I eagerly volunteer to assist in the compilation of a list).

  58. If you guys think Ellison is going to drop his lawsuit in lieu of a show for your boring lives, you’re on crack. If you think either party is going to let a mass of fanboys ajudicate a libel issue, you’re on really bad crack.

    And don’t forget all the legal fees that have already been racked up on both sides. Or did you plan to cover those with ticket sales?

    Duh. I guess reading comics really DOES rot the brain.

  59. >”says the person on the comic blog”.

    that’s not just any “person” to take advice from, but a guy that cleverly goes by the name of colonel cornhole. or is that your real name, if so then i apologize for assuming.

  60. So it’s come to this, has it? The players in the eternal Groth/Ellison struggle have been provoked by The Beat, and with them comes all the partisan fanboy troops to watch their icons cross blades one more time (and to deliver their own cute, snarky missives). All on a blog comments section.

    And the irony beats all: “The Beat” opens up this can of worms with a provocative post and next assumes the voice of reason, urging calmness and civility. Congratulations on stirring up the deep muck of this morass, Heidi. You should have known better.

    This petty, rancorous undercurrent is why I stopped comics 15 years ago. I came back to it a few months back thinking maybe things were different. But I see absolutely nothing’s changed, it’s just that everyone’s a little older and a little more set in their ways. Returning to the comics world was a mistake.

    Pathos and tragedy the first go around; pathetic farce thereafter.

    Also: bad form, Mr. Wheeler, blowing up like that. Your temper really got the best of you. I’d back away slowly from this tempest and let it pass on by without you.

  61. ” they’re both acid-tongued world class crumudgeon spewing skewing put-down verbal wordsmith geniuses.”

    Um… well…. No, they’re not. Someone needs to say this, because it’s a significant mis-characterization. Gary Groth is a publisher who has, from time to time, shown some good taste in material. His writing is pretty much relegated to magazines and books he publishes.

    Harlan Ellison, on the other hand, is a gigantic American writer of tremendous note for going on fifty years, one of the top five greatest science fiction writers, a man whose stories have been published all over the world, a man who has won as many – if not more – awards for his work than virtually any other writer.

    One may equate them as having oversize egos, perhaps, but to equate them as wordsmiths is a ridiculous thing to do. A hundred years from now, people will still be reading Ellison. A hundred years from now, Gary Groth will just be another one of the names in small print found in the indicia of a Love and Rockets collection.

    Which, by the way, is one of many reasons this imbroglio is so tragic. A very significant man has been slowed in his calling by a man of very, very little significance indeed.

    Let Harlan have his way with this minor figure in one big public skirmish, then let the man move on to do what he does even better.

  62. HEIDI:

    “Col. Cornhole” (a more than modestly repellent pseudonym) is correct. I AM a man of my word, and yes WILL debate Groth, as I have already averred; but this Roman Coliseum burlesque will not redress the legal issues of a grown-up lawsuit, no matter HOW annoying its existence is to absolutely UNINVOLVED spectators, claques, cadres, provocateurs, and the sort of jerkazoids who stand watching the guy on the ledge, and shouting JUMP JUMP JUMP!

    I like a good gag as much as the next guy, but let us not for a nanosecond confuse entertainment with reality.

    We see the folly of this entire “audience-participation” fad empowered by the internet, where everyone seems to be vouchsafed as having an opinion more valid than those of the participants, rampant around us. The profiteers who batten on an ever-more-ignorant constituency’s gullibility have corrupted the language to legitimatize the misnomer “reality televison,” also an oxymoron for oxys and morons. Those who wish to take votes via internet as to how a film or comic book or tv show should conclude, or proceed; those who think a woman with a false leg dancing with a ballroom dandy is some kind of “art” that should be voted on; those who think the poll is the election; those who know next-to-nothing being sought for opinions on Do You Think Paris Hilton Should Spend More or Less Time in Sing-Sing. It’s flummery, folks!

    (Sidebar Note, both on- and off-the-point:

    (One of the many hundreds of things in this Life that raise my hackles and send me screaming for a long knife with which to behead shadows on the tv set, is this: say, for instance, the late Sir Alec Guinness, or Katherine Hepburn, or Tiger Woods, say, goes on Leno or Letterman or one of the other Masters of Mediocrity who babble endlessly through the wee hours; and Jay/David/Jimmy/Conan/whichever says, “Hey…Alec/Kate/Tiger…I hear you play the kazoo while fucking chickens?” And the star nervously yet solemnly admits that yes, when s/he was elevn-years-old s/he did, in fact, tootle occasionally on that venerable instrument…but that was sixty-two years’ ago. “Well, why don’t you give us a tune now,” says the host, “we’ve got some adult consenting chickens right backstage,” and the host whips a kazoo out of a drawer in the interviewer’s desk. “Oh no, uh-uh,” says the disingenuous guest, who knew this was coming all along, but is now playing the reluctrant virgin with a degree of thespic facility guaranteed to get the Academy’s notice, “no way, not gonna do it!”

    (And the host turns to all of YOU,the uninvolved audience that needs its bear-baiting, its you-go-fight-him-while-I-watch, its chicken-fucking kazoo symphonies, its Roman Bread & Circuses without pause or let or cessation, and he winks and nods and says, “Hey, folks, YOU wanna see Kate simultaneously go down on this fowl while proffering her jazz version of Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D, doncha? Huh, doncha? C’mon, put ’em together for Tiger on the chick, Sir Alec on the kazoo!!!”

    (And all you good little nincompoops stomp and whistle and clang temple bells, and the abashed star shakes head nononono and then smiles ruefully as if there is no alternative, as if s/he is not an adult capable of saying NO to a gaggle of total strangers, and s/he either raises skirt or drops trow, inserts kazoo in one aperture…and chicken in another…and does as s/he is told. Such as going to the ComicCon because someone SUGGESTED it.)

    No. I will present myself fully and openly at ANY venue (though I have purposely had nothing to do with ComicCon for MANY years, for what I consider good and sufficient reason, but will not go into here), yet I suggest to you, Heidi–since apparently you are the amenuensis who’ll be cobbling this World Championship Idiocy Confrontation–that 1) It will have no more depth and import than the Peter David/Todd Macfarlane “debate” of a decade-or-so ago, that 2) I will appear wherever called upon to do so, but it would be my preference that just because someone here blithely SUGGESTED ComicCon onaccounta that’s where the biggest horde can be gathered, that you not assume it as a given, because I don’t want to GO to ComicCon (but as a man of my word, I will), and 3) Let everyone note this before we go any further:

    I have said I would duke it out. I have NOT said I will drop my suit. Or trousers. There are adult, intelligent, non-Giant Ego recourses to take care of this matter between Groth and me, for all time, and Groth knows what they are. They do NOT entail me “explaining myself” in a book he will sell for even more profit made off my bones, after he has already exploited-while-defaming me for nearly three decades. The imbecile suggestion that I should fuck myself by writing a mewling apologia-cum-rationalization in yet ANOTHER Groth-Thompson publication, is monumentally horseshit, and Groth knows it. Even Greenlee, a Charlie McCarthy needful of endless look-at-me, knows it. No wonder my attorney laughed out loud at the moronic idea.

    (Oh, by the way, for the dude who didn’t understand why Fantagraphics, The Comics Journal, and unnamed “John Does” were listed on the original complaint, if this is–as I’ve said from the start–a contention between Groth and me–and probably Thompson–uh…you don’t know much about the lowest possible rigors of the law, do you, kiddo? I urge you to ask my lawyer, Groth’s lawyer, Mr. Greenlee, or one another of the folks hereabouts who’ve noted they have law degrees, to explain it to you. It’ll take perhaps one short sentence. It ain’t, well, either jurisprudence or rocket science.)

    Further, Heidi, deponent sayeth not.

    Yr. Pal, Harlan

  63. MACK THREE:

    Thank you. I am grateful…and more than a little chastened, saddened.

    Only about me and my work, and its relation to this otherwise distractful nonsense, I fear you are righter than right.

    You sober me, sir/madame. I wish I were as sensible as you.

    Again, and softly, thank you.

    Harlan Ellison

  64. When ever I have read a Harlan Ellison story, I’ve always noticed that (at one point or another) it is pointed out to me how I the reader, am somehow stupic or ignorant. Has anyone else noticed this? It seems to be happening on this blog, too. For someone who doesn’t like our “audience-participation” we sure do hear alot about what’s going on, from him. Food for thought.

  65. Christopher,

    “When ever I have read a Harlan Ellison story, I’ve always noticed that (at one point or another) it is pointed out to me how I the reader, am somehow stupic or ignorant”

    You might want to take that up with your therapist.

  66. Someone sez “Harlan Ellison, on the other hand, is a gigantic American writer of tremendous note for going on fifty years, one of the top five greatest science fiction writers, a man whose stories have been published all over the world, a man who has won as many – if not more – awards for his work than virtually any other writer.”

    So where are the giant of tremendous note’s books? I don’t see them in the stores. All those sci-fi awards haven’t stopped them from going out of print years ago. Must be we stupid readers’ fault, I’m sure.

  67. I’m getting by fine without one, thank you. I seem to remember reading an intro to one of Ellison’s comics (since this is a comics blog) where he used a “big word,” and then told the reader to “look it up.” That’s not a very nice thing to say to someone who just spent money on their work. That’s the one that comes to mind right now.

  68. Meaning no disrespect, mind you. But when I wander down the aisles I see lots of stuff from Asimov and Clarke and Bradbury and Dick and LeGuin and Heinlein and even some Pohl and Farmer and Silverberg…giants who compete for that top five list of yours. I don’t see Ellison.

  69. oh, well, the chance to take a higher road is lost. i urge everyone interested or involved to forget, then, this debate idea. and get back to focusing time, monies, energies on THE highest road in this matter, the first amendment road. no matter whose friend you are, who you think is a nice(r) or less nice(r) person, who reviewed your book, how much you usually like staying out of frays, what kind of reading you like to do, who you think is a good writer: defend the first amendment. if you’re involved in a blog or publication or publishing house that enjoys feedom of the press or an organization that’s supposed to defend the first amendment, whatever, get behind fantagraphics full force.

    and, remember. with sadness and pity not glee, because if you live long enough and don’t diligently keep your eyes on loftier pursuits, you, too, might arrive there: “For certain people after 50, litigation takes the place of sex.” – Gore Vidal

  70. Far be it from me to suggest that someone who thinks calling himself “Col. Cornhole” is kewwwl might not be, well, the apotheosis of Socratic Wisdome but, uh, er, if he could drag himself out of the aisle whereat he succors himself with THE SCIMITAR OF TROLLHAVEN, Vol. IX: The Search for the Backside of Buylar, he might wander to a) the art section, where he will find my book MIND FIELDS, or b) the literature section, where he will find THE ESSENTIAL ELLISON:a 50 year Retrospective. Or just stay at home alternately twiddling his mouse and his weenie, on the Internet Nowhere that substitutes for actual erudition.

    For those who feel “insulted” by my use of a perfectly good, albeit not dumbed-down streettalk word such as “like” — I, like, went down to the store today and I, like, bought a, like, candy bar for, like, sixty-fi’ cents — I submit that you feel insulted because you aren’t dumb, you’re just plain dray-mule ignorant. I intend for you to feel badly about your arrogant ignorance. Good for you.

    I take what I do seriously, child. It is my job not to dumb down what I write to the level of someone who might seek a date with Paris Hilton, but to bring my audience of readers to the highest level of Art or Awareness it is within my power to achieve. Only an airhead would be troubled that a word unknown would be followed by the polite suggestion “look it up” and take it as an insult.

    It is my badge of honor to incur the ignorant japery of you and the otherwise nameless, faceless…pointless…Moonlight. Trying to get you to rise above your self-imposed limitations is akin to trying to read Voltaire to a cage of baboons.

    And that, my friends, not Groth’s chittering, is Free Speech.

    From someone triumphantly better than you, I remain,

    Always Elitist, so bite me, muthuh,

    Yr. Pal, Harlan

  71. There are any number of ways to engage in a dialogue outside of court to vent about, discuss, or resolve this issue. The only reason I suggested Comicon International is because it would greatly increase general creator awareness of the whole First Amendment vs. libel issue, and it would be a great way to fill the coffers of, and increase awareness of, the CBLDF — an organization both parties strongly support.

    But it’s your lives, your businesses and your choices.

    I really don’t have a dog in this fight, except for the fact that a prolonged court battle will no doubt lessen the creative output/published material from both parties involved — which I think would be a damn shame.

  72. Harlan Ellison wrote: “Greenlee, a Charlie McCarthy needful of endless look-at-me,”

    I assume Heidi’s admonition against name calling and ad hominem attacks applies to everyone and not just me?

    As to the rest… Well, I had been pleasantly surprised when Mr. Ellison seemed to agree to his differences with Gary Groth on the debate platform instead of in the courtroom. It made me wonder if I’d misjudged the man (and it certainly seemed to prove his long stated claim that his beef is with Gary Groth the man and not Fantagraphics as a company). I was really impressed with his choice to take the high road.

    And then, of course, he came back here and took it all away. Mr. Ellison is surely intelligent enough to realize that for all practical purposes you cannot have a debate of this sort while the two parties are involved in a libel suit (for one thing, I am certain Mr. Ellison’s lawyers would never allow it!). After giving his word, Mr. Ellison has therefore added a caveat which for all intent and purposes means he will never have to honor his obligation.

    Oh well.

    Meanwhile I wonder if Mr. Ellison would be so kind as to answer a couple of questions I asked earlier in this thread which I am sure he must have overlooked.

    1) One of the things you are suing over is Mr. Groth’s use of your name on a book which reprinted an interview of you which even you have conceded they own. Since they have the right to use the interview, the current state of first amendment law clearly gives them the right to use your name to let people know about the reprinted interview. If you prevail on this count, you will therefore have succeeded in changing the law in such a way that limits current first amendment free speech protections not just for Mr. Groth but for all publishers everywhere. Considering that (and without even getting into the other parts of your case), how can you claim your suit has no first amendment implications?

    2) One thing just about everyone seems to agree on is that this suit is a waste of time for all involved. Since Mr. Ellison is the one who filed the suit I wonder if he could explain what compromise- if any- he would accept from Mr. Groth to bring this matter to bring this matter to a swift close.

  73. R. MAHERAS: Excuse my tiny sin of omission if I seemed to be speaking negatively about you when I entered an objection to ComicCon as the venue. I have my reasons for reservations about ComicCon, but they were not intended to reflect on your perfectly understandable suggestion, nor in any way about you personally.

    As someone has noted here, what a far distance we’ve all come since Shannon Wheeler’s perfectly (again, understandable) response to Groth approaching him for donation. I think people SHOULD donate to Groth’s fund — unless they’d rather put said funds to better use with the CBLDF–because it is clearly my desire to GET HIM to court, which ought to delight the hell out of all of you, since if it is — as Groth continues to scam some of you into believing — a 1st Amendment matter, and not the personal insult matter I contend it to be, then donating to the Comics Journal Defense Fund is a noble and rewarding action.

    Why does my trying to get this matter adjudicated in an adult, legal forum, seem to unhinge some of you? And why do some other of you persist in calling it a time-waste? In YOUR view it may be, but it’s OUR lives (and in Groth’s case the life of a frequently-noble publishing concern and its staff), so why do you presume to insult either or both of us who have decided for ourselves…that we’d like to run OUR lives as WE see fit, not merely to satisfy YOUR need for the product(s) either of us proffer?

    Don’t you, for the barest moment, consider that this is presumptuousness of a rare order? By you? Toward us?

    Oh, and absolutely as a side-note:

    I am presuming (and if I’m wrong, never mind), that the Craig Yoe who has somewhichway for no reason I can discern manifested an ongoing pique with my existence– and please don’t edify me, I’m old and have little time left to parse your snits — is the same Yoe of the titular Yoe Studio that produces the estimable comic character statuettes Dark Horse has been offering for the last few years. If you are unaware of these terrific little metal-boxed, pinback-accoutred re-creations of every great character from Barney Google, Dick Tracy and the Shmoo to Magnus the Robot Fighter and The Lone Ranger and the forthcoming DC heroes, avail yourself to whatever avenue of perception you use to check out such goods.

    At last count, not being a Peanuts fan, my collection sports somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 of these Yoe Studios nifties. It is, thus, in a cockeyed and non-sycophantic way, a bit of an honor for me to be savaged by a man whose talent — like Shannon Wheeler’s — I applaud.

    And if poor, sad “Christopher Moonlight” cannot fathom the simple logic and correctness of my returning again and again to THIS site to say
    THESE things, well, come sit in the gallery when we go to trial.

    I live to serve your abundant intellectual needs.

    Wishing I were one-fifth as wily as Groth and his supporters THINK i is,

    Yr. Pal, Harlan

  74. I got the e-mail awhile back about buying Fantagraphics books to help with their lawsuit. I sent them an e-mail saying, ‘Hey, if I’m doing you a favor, howzabout a break on the shipping cost?’ AND also it doesn’t appear that the ordering section of the website is secure (no padlock icon thingy).

    I received no response, so I guess my $$ wasn’t too important.

    Then I bought the same items from Bud Plant & saved $$ on the deal anyway. Thanks Gary!

  75. Kim Thompson went out of his way to help me out when I had problems buying books through their website. I’m sure money is very important to them, but if their site works like other web stores, shipping costs are likely calculated via some formula provided by whomever does their shipping.

  76. Harlan Ellison: “it’s OUR lives (and in Groth’s case the life of a frequently-noble publishing concern and its staff), so why do you presume to insult either or both of us who have decided for ourselves…that we’d like to run OUR lives as WE see fit, not merely to satisfy YOUR need for the product(s) either of us proffer?”

    What you say would be very wise and true indeed IF you and Mr. Groth had made a mutual choice that you wished to devote large amounts of time and money to fighting a lawsuit. But of course that is not the case. YOU were the one who filed the suit and so you therefore forced that choice upon Mr Groth. And by doing so you have endangered the health and future of a company that even you concede is “frequently noble.” Can you blame people for being upset about that? In the past, you have never hesitated to stand up and condemn those you felt were acting unjustly or stupidly- can you criticize others who now follow your example?

    Please consider again keeping your word in a meaningful way and dropping this suit and instead settling your grudge in a one on one public debate.

    You keep insisting that this is not a first amendment issue. I have several questions about that- one of which I’ve asked here before but which I’m sure you’ve innocently overlooked.

    One of the things you are suing over is Mr. Groth’s use of your name on a book which reprinted an interview of you which even you have conceded they own. Since they have the right to use the interview, the current state of first amendment law clearly gives them the right to use your name to let people know about the reprinted interview. If you prevail on this count, you will therefore have succeeded in changing the law in such a way that limits current first amendment free speech protections not just for Mr. Groth but for all publishers everywhere. Considering that (and without even getting into the other parts of your case), how can you claim your suit has no first amendment implications?

  77. Cornhole,

    “So where are the giant of tremendous note’s books? I don’t see them in the stores. All those sci-fi awards haven’t stopped them from going out of print years ago. Must be we stupid readers’ fault, I’m sure.”

    A quick perusal of Amazon.com finds many of his books still in print, and the rest easily found.

    Statements like yours amaze me. You’re never going to beat anyone if you can’t acknowledge reality. Ellison’s place in the firmament of American writers is not up for debate. That time has long, long since passed. You may quibble you think it’s unearned, or that you don’t personally care for his writing, but to suggest that he is NOT considered to be among the great American writers, or that he has NOT been given more awards than almost any other writer is to prove your own ignorance. These things are not arguable, and by arguing them you pull the legs out of any position you may hold. In the end, you just become an angry, silly person.

  78. Craig,

    Speaking as a reasonably impartial observer who cares very, very much about the First Amendment (much more than I care about any of the participants here) let me assure you that you are hurting, not helping, Mr. Groth’s cause when you try to wrap him up in the First Amendment flag. This is NOT a First Amendment issue, clearly, and it’s offensive as hell to try to paint it as such. This is a trivial matter, and every time Groth or one of his supporters tries to make it into a Constitutional issue, they lend credence to Mr. Ellison’s claims.

  79. Fuck you, Shannon Wheeler. Gary Groth was asking for money for his defense fund and all you could do was whine about how much publicity he didn’t give you?! What a selfish fucking bitch. Maybe you should make something he could give two shits about if you want some attention, instead of riding the same one-note character for 15 years. You have to EARN publicity, and its fucking pathetic to hold grudges against people for not kissing your ass. Maybe you should make some interesting comics instead of writing self-pitying blogs all fucking day.

  80. yo, harlan!

    i’m flattered that you like the statues i do for the esteemed dark horse and that you give props to YOE! Studio. maybe i’ll quote you on the cover of my next book for fantagraphics ;o)

    i, too, gretly admire your creativity. if colonel cornhole wants to read your tomes and doesn’t want to buy any of the many commercial ones available he can borrow my well-read and loved copies of your books from my shelf devoted to the same.
    i think you would like the “arf” series of books (http://arflovers.com) i do for fantagraphics, they’re having a special sale right now–and i personally will help you through the website to buy the “arfs”–and pay the postage to boot. the books feature the creative work of old skool-cartoonists, you know like George Carlson. The only time you and i ever met was a very pleasant get-together in Kent, Ohio to talk about Carlson back in 1970, 37 years ago. i was then an editor of a hippie underground paper and followed religiously your glass teat column. long time fan.
    i think it’s probably a good thing in some cases that adversaries have a mutual respect. it couldn’t hurt.
    one of the biggest take aways i have got from you is the importance of the first amendment–freedom of the press–and your defense of it. as an author of 22-some books and, more importantly, as a U.S. citizen i greatly value it. i posted above that a book i’m doing right now for a publisher lists the name of a dozen cartoonists on the cover that i talk about historically and critically. (the book won’t be published by fantagraphics, they turned it down–the bastards!). if you prevail in your suit i wouldn’t be able to do that if some cartoonist objects to what i had to say about him or his work. forget my little book about cartoonists, the same could be apllied to, say, politicians and political books, too! i “get” that you hate groth (i don’t share your opinion–that’s neither here nor there). what i DON’T get is your suit. why isn’t the harlan ellison that i used to admire saying “i hate groth and what he says but i defend to the death his right to say it!”? man, i would admire that. do it and i’ll send you a free statue and book! don’t say it and i’m reluctantly, but fervently gonna have to fight hard to preserve my and gary’s and your’s and other author’s first amendment rights.

    harlan, what say you to kevin and me?

  81. Mack 3 sez “but to suggest that he is NOT considered to be among the great American writers, or that he has NOT been given more awards than almost any other writer is to prove your own ignorance. ”

    I suggested neither thing, oh ye who reads too fast. Go back and sound out each word. I said that Top 5 lists are debatable…I’d love to see your other four, to see who you’ve excluded to hold a place for Mr. Ellison, who is more easily argued into a Top 10. I also “suggested” that lotsa awards don’t keep you in print, and Amazon holds me up on that one too…being available from used book sellers is not “in print.”

    Mr. Ellison sez “the art section, where he will find my book MIND FIELDS, or b) the literature section, where he will find THE ESSENTIAL ELLISON:a 50 year Retrospective.”

    One be not there sir, and the other be a bit of a doorstop. But thanks for the heads up.

  82. “I take what I do seriously, child. It is my job not to dumb down what I write to the level of someone who might seek a date with Paris Hilton, but to bring my audience of readers to the highest level of Art or Awareness it is within my power to achieve. Only an airhead would be troubled that a word unknown would be followed by the polite suggestion “look it up” and take it as an insult.”

    This is what I mean. You assume alot about your readers and then project it on to them. I’m not asking you to dumb anything down, but when you say things like “go look it up” you are condescending. I know what a dictionary is, and I’m willing to bet that everyone who’s posted here does, too. If I want the “highest level of Art or Awareness” I can get it from Ray Bradbury without feeling like it might be suggested that I’m an “airhead” at any time. I might even fell good about things when I’m done reading it. I’ve only felt a little bit dirty and mean spirited after your work.

    “It is my badge of honor to incur the ignorant japery of you and the otherwise nameless, faceless…pointless…Moonlight. Trying to get you to rise above your self-imposed limitations is akin to trying to read Voltaire to a cage of baboons.”

    I’m not even sure what you mean by this, but I’m sure you’ll take that as another point expand on how dumb I am. If you think I’m “otherwise nameless, faceless…pointless…” you may want to try my name in Google, or even easier… click my link. I’m done here. The only reason I’ve kept coming back is because I’ve always seen you as a bit of a bully, and I don’t like bullies. Especially when they start to throw there wait around, where I hang out.

  83. MR. YOE:

    Admiration aside, kiddo, you have YOUR idea of what slander/libel/protectable speech/non-protectable speech is …

    … and I have mine.

    Let me answer you very simply. Answering the direct question you asked me (as opposed to the rigged questions asked, answered, and many-times-now ignored hiccups promulgated by the surrogate tar-baby of convoluted paralogia, the venerable mr. greenlee)(who may get it, sometime along about the return of the Ice Age, that i pay him no heed, no mind, no attention, and will never respond to him, so let him try to chivvy others)(in fact, sir, I will pay you a modest monthly stipend if YOU will place yourself in the hours-long trailer of his blather, and divert him from my notice).

    I am, honest to goodness, the very same guy you met at Kent State where, if you recall, I was the main keynote speaker on the anniversary of The Massacre. Came at my own expense, came despite death threats, spoke at length. Met you. If anything, I’ve grown more immutable in my backing of full and total Free Speech for e*v*e*r*y*o*n*e exclamation point.

    Trust me on this, if you have ANY residual trust, admiration, affection for me:

    Groth and his magazine can say anygoddamthing about me opinionwise or reviewwise they choose. They can mimic the dolt who can’t find one of my 76 books, and has NO understanding about what stays in print or otherwise, or market forces, or blahblahblah, and I won’t (nor have I ever) blinked an eye. It may cut me to the quick, me widdle Yiddish heart broken, but that’s Fair Comment and I would, in fact mount the battlements to protect their right to say alla that nasty shit, no matter how critically or meanspiritedly generated, good press or bad.

    Are we together so far?

    I’ll wait. A simple yes or no will suffice. Then I’ll come back, and we’ll move on. We’ll do this in stages, to find the juncture at which you don’t “get” (as you put it) why I’m suing Groth.

    Harlan Ellison

  84. MR. MOONLIGHT:

    Yes, if I were a slovenly-speller, a person with low self-esteem, and twice as arrogant as the hubris-drenched Harlan Ellison, I would have difficulty acknowledging that in some area I was an ignoramus, and would indeed look upon as a “bully” someone who respected me enough to suggest he look up a word he MIGHT NOT know in a fuckin’ dictionary, which I would need full frontal-nudity photography of every bookshelf in your abyss to verify. Can’t trade my classy gibes with you right now, kiddo; I’m waiting for Craig Yoe to get back to me.

    Now if that seems insulting to you, then by all means, rush away rush away rush away all.

    Oh, gee, and I was coming off so really loveable till that.

    Yr. Pal, and STILL way out in front, Harlan

  85. Christopher,

    I’ve never quite gotten the view that you have of Harlan. Not speaking about you specifically – it’s one shared by others. I’ve read his work from an early age, and while you cite specific things he really does write, I’ve never taken them as patronizing or insulting.

    One of the things that struck me early on was that Harlan doesn’t play false modesty, and he takes pride in what he is able to do. When Harlan writes, “Look it up,” there’s several layers at work, but none of them are insulting to the audience. First of all, when he writes something like that, it’s because he fer sure knows that the majority of his audience will NEED to look it up. Harlan clearly has a love affair going on with the language that leads him places most do not go. He has a respect for it than transcends most writers. You would have him pretend it were not so so that he wouldn’t risk offending the sensibilities of people who can’t handle being spoken to honestly?

    There’s also always been an Us Vs Them quality to his work. Harlan’s writing is welcoming and inclusive – if you value intelligence and knowledge. If you buy into the ugly notion that all opinions are equally valid, then you will take huge offense at Ellison’s work. If, however, you buy into the notion that education is a lifelong process, and wisdom is the highest goal, you’ll get that Harlan’s on your side. He rails against stupidity the way a preacher rails against the devil, because – and I share this view – stupidity is going to be the ultimate downfall of our species.

    Do not take this personally, because I don’t know you, and I don’t say this as a jibe. Long before I came across your comments, I held this view – there are people who get Harlan, and people who don’t. As a rule, the ones who do are well educated, well-read, thoughtful, and have a terrific sense of humor. The ones who don’t tend to have thinner skins and tend to take umbrage at the slightest hint of a greater intellect. But I generally believe that people who take Harlan’s writings to be personally insulting have probably earned those insults. If you remove the chip from your shoulder, and open yourself to a larger, mor generous way of seeing the world, you’ll see that the kind of things you take such offense at are not in any way actually offensive.

  86. Harlan Ellison: “the surrogate tar-baby of convoluted paralogia, the venerable mr. greenlee”

    I am beginning to suspect that Heidi’s admonition against name calling applies only to me and not to Harlan Ellison.

    But it is, I suspect, it is obvious what is going on. Whenever someone who actually is educated about first amendment law asks Mr. Ellison a pertinent question about his characterization of his case he either runs away, orders that the questioner be banned from his website or personally insults the questioner while ignoring the question altogether. He does this because he knows he can’t answer intelligently questions from someone who knows what he’s talking about- which, I suggest, indicates that somewhere deep down he recognizes that this suit is in fact a violation of the principles he has professed to hold dear for decades.

    If I am wrong then why isn’t he willing to entertain any serious questions from me? If I am nothing more than a Groth lackey or a tarbaby or whatever he chooses to call me this week then it should be child’s play for a man of Mr. Ellison’s intelligence to poke holes in my arguments. But instead Mr. Ellison prefers to condescendingly tutor Craig Yoe on the first amendment- likely because he believes he knows more about the subject than does Mr. Yoe.

    Actually, of course, Craig has a pretty sophisticated understanding of this case and of the first amendment.

    For anyone who might be interested, I once made a long post over at the Comics Journal site explaining the primary reasons why I considered this to be a first amendment case. Since then, I have not seen anyone- certainly not Mr. Ellison!- challenge any of the points I made.

    My post is the top one on this page http://tinyurl.com/295upl

  87. CJ wrote: – “there are people who get Harlan, and people who don’t. As a rule, the ones who do are well educated, well-read, thoughtful, and have a terrific sense of humor. The ones who don’t tend to have thinner skins and tend to take umbrage at the slightest hint of a greater intellect. But I generally believe that people who take Harlan’s writings to be personally insulting have probably earned those insults.”

    So if you don’t like Harlan Ellison’s writing it’s evidence that you have a character flaw or are somehow stupid? That’s quite a statement. If someone doesn’t like a writer I enjoy, I don’t assume the other person is dumb- just that he simply has different tastes than I do.

  88. Mike McGee wrote: “It’s wounded the image of CBLDF at a time when — quite frankly — it really doesn’t need any further wounding,…”
    —–
    The CBLDF’s charter calls for defense of cases concerning the 1st Amendment. They examined this case and decided that it is not a 1st Amendment case. If this decision truly does wound the image of the CBLDF, then it is more likely that it does so because the perception by the general public of what the CBLDF is supposed to do is wrong. Perhaps the CBLDF needs to do a bit more in the area of public education. Or maybe the public needs to do more to educate themselves.
    ==========
    To the Colonel—Ellison doesn’t write novels. That is probably why his works are not commonly found among the shelves of writers who do incessant trilogies or, even worse, incessant series of trilogies.
    ==========
    Craig Yoe wrote: “i think harlan’s suit has chilling consequences for authors and publishers and citizens of the good ol’ usa.”
    —–
    God Bless the good old USA, but the citizens of the USA don’t give a hoot about this lawsuit. Less than 1% of the population reads comics books.

    A small subset of comics industry professionals need to be making alternate plans for the publication of their works on the off chance that Fantagraphics does go out of business over this lawsuit. But that is true of any creator that works in this business. Comics publishers have been going out of business for decades.

    And speaking of publishers, most publishers that we might talk about only publish comic books and/or related items. Fantagraphics also publishes The Comics Journal, which has been known at times to be more interested in printing gossip and harsh reviews of comic book works, and even more occasionally has been accused of fabricating some of what they publish in those areas. When one steps into that ring, sometimes one is likely to take a few punches.

  89. 111 comments!? Um, I was going to post something relevant to the original post… um, having something to do with my generation’s dashed hopes and expectations of the left and paternalism of corporations or something… and would maybe have come up with something pretty juicy, since I have a pretty long history with Fantagraphics and Shannon.. but WTF? My life’s too short to read this thing anymore. Have any publishers shown interest in this thing? Maybe it would make a good benefit book for Fanta’s case or something.

  90. Kevin,

    “So if you don’t like Harlan Ellison’s writing it’s evidence that you have a character flaw or are somehow stupid? ”

    My statement was very direct, and very simple. The case between Groth and Ellison is very complicated. That you do not at all grasp the meaning of the first could go to impeach your claim to understand the second.

  91. Russ Maheras wrote: “I really don’t have a dog in this fight,…”
    —–
    Truth in advertising time: Maheras frequently posts at The Comics Journal site, and used to post at the Ellison site, but got booted.
    ==========
    Again Greenlee posts the questions that he should know by know will not be answered. Still trying to score points for Groth. Ellison hasn’t answered them and surely would not answer them over at The Comics Journal site.
    ==========
    Groth wrote: “If we debated, I would insist that we would both indemnify the other against charges of libel, which I believe can be done legally.”
    —–
    A debate is obviously an oral argument, so indemnifying against charges of libel for words said during a debate is an impossibility. Groth should know that, his being a publisher and all. As Charlie pointed out, libel is written, spoken is slander.

    And beside that, Groth doesn’t believe in insurance against libel, for certainly wouldn’t he have had some insurance against being sued for libel? He is asking comics fans to give him money to defend himself, so he must not have that insurance.

  92. Hi Alan-
    Since you’re a fair minded and truth loving man i assume you’re going to apologize for the demonstrable untruth you posted about me earlier in this thread?

    Alan Coil “the citizens of the USA don’t give a hoot about this lawsuit. Less than 1% of the population reads comics books.”

    As I’m sure you know, Alan, the importance of a case is not determined by a Gallup poll of how many Americans happen to be interested in it but rather by how the precedent the case establishes will be used by other judges and courts. Many of the most important cases in American history involved facts that the average citizens of the time would not have been interested in.
    And, of course, if Mr. Ellison happens to win this case it would establish a precedent that would restrict the first amendment rights not just of Fantagraphics or of other comics publishers but of ALL American publishers. Mr. Ellison’s grudge against Gary Groth would have led him to the point where his final legacy to us all would be a restriction of free speech rights and the destruction of a company which has done more than any other to further the cause of an art form Mr. Ellison professes to love.

    Alan Coil: “Again Greenlee posts the questions that he should know by know will not be answered.”

    I admit it, Alan- you’re right. I did strongly suspect that Mr. Ellison would refuse to answer reasonable questions posed by a person familiar with the relevant laws.

    But I hoped I was wrong.

    Alan Coil : “Groth … is asking comics fans to give him money to defend himself, so he must not have (libel) insurance.”

    You’re right again, Alan- he doesn’t.

  93. CJ “My statement was very direct, and very simple. The case between Groth and Ellison is very complicated. That you do not at all grasp the meaning of the first could go to impeach your claim to understand the second.”

    So if you believe I have misunderstood you that’s evidence that my professional education and experience was all a sham? Golly- once again that’s quite a statement. If someone doesn’t understand something I say, I make an effort to make my meaning clearer. I certainly don’t take it as proof that they’re unqualified to work in their chosen field.

  94. Alan Coil sez “Ellison doesn’t write novels. That is probably why his works are not commonly found among the shelves of writers who do incessant trilogies or, even worse, incessant series of trilogies.”

    I think Ellison just re-released a novel, according to Amazon, so it seems like he writes them. Maybe you should have said “Ellison doesn’t write novels that anyone wants to buy.” Maybe he should try an incessant trilogy, although most of the writers I named earlier are managing to stay in print without them.

    Hey, I’m not arguing that Ellison isn’t a good SF writer. I am arguing Mach 3’s claim that he’s in the top 5 greatest, because I think if he was, he’d be on the shelves. Mr. 3 has not yet provided his other four.

  95. oy gevalt…I go off to spend a day with my family and THIS is what happens?

    I feel like everyone is having some catharsis however.

  96. harlan, god i wish it was a simple yes or no. we’re together on cornhole, that’s for sure. but, alas, you should know, i HAVE sadly lost ALL trustadmirationaffection for you as a person (not as a writer) until you drop this suit (not “drop suit” as i said before, realized it was funny inuendo after i posted, which you wittingly jumped right on). i “get” you don’t like kevin. but, i “don’t get” why you’re talking to me. kevin and i, as i see it, are totally of the same mind and have the same damn question(s). is that any kind of “yes”? and will you please proceed? btw it certainly isn’t a “no”–free speech, right?!? i do have this vague feeling that you understand i’m not interested in the bullshit, the insults, the razzamataz of the whole thing and that i will gladly and truly listen and try and understand your pov. but, i reserve the right to urge you to drop the suit and drop suit!

  97. Yeah, I took a cheap shot at Ellison about the novels…if he’s still reading this thread, I’m sorry for it, sir.

    But I would be interested in Mr. Mark Three’s list of the top 5 greatest SF writers. Not to belabor it at Ellison’s expense, but to discuss the criteria for such a list…sales? Fame? Household recognition? Awards? Literary achievement?

  98. Alan Coil wrote: “Truth in advertising time: Maheras frequently posts at The Comics Journal site, and used to post at the Ellison site, but got booted.”

    Your research is as sloppy as your logic. I’ve never posted on Harlan’s web site, and I’ve never been booted from ANY Web site. I mean, c’mon — were you too lazy to even use the search function on the Webderland site before spouting off?

    And while I post on the TCJ Web site, if you had done even one iota of homework on Google, you’d find that I’ve also posted on Peter David’s Web site, Tony Isabella’s Web site, the CBG site, Elayne Riggs’ web site, this site, and others.

    As I pointed out recently on A TCJ thread, I’ve only talked to Groth exactly once in my life — for maybe a minute — at the San Diego con last year. And if you had read even a tiny fraction of my TCJ threads — which you obviously haven’t — you’d have realized how absurd your attempt to pigeonhole my viewpoint is. I’ve disagreed quite vocally with Groth on the TCJ Web site regarding a number of issues (Steve Ditko, the War in Iraq, politics, the military in general, and a few other things). Regarding this issue, however, after reading Harlan’s original complaint the day after it was posted, I unilaterally decided the suit was, at least partially, a First Amendment issue — and I said as much on-line at that time.

    The fact is, I stopped drinking Kool-Aid about 30 years ago, and I’m a better man for it.

  99. Colonel—
    My error. More correctly stated, Ellison prefers to work in the shorter form, not the novel. Unless I missed one in my search, it seems Ellison hasn’t written a novel in 40 years.

  100. AN APOLOGY.

    I apologize to Russ Maheras for saying he was booted from the Ellison site. I confused him with a different person who posts at The Comics Journal site. I’m sorry.

  101. CRAIG:

    Sorry to hear I’ve fallen out of favor in your eyes since I filed my lawsuit. That does, truly, make me sigh. But, perhaps, when we reach the point in this personal back-and-forth where you and I reach the juncture at which you “get” what I’m doing, and why, whether you choose at that point to continue thinking I’m wrong in my stance, or decide you may not like it but you UNDERSTAND it, I will be content. I’ve posted on my own website, where a lot of my friends are concerned about my sojourn here, that I will not be responding to anyone else, but you.

    And when we are done –just the two of us –I’m gone from here. Heidi will understand and may even be, I suspect, relieved. Oy gevalt is a powerful epithet to my people, not idly muttered.

    If you and I have a civil and slow — sectional, step by step — neither of us need worry whether others, unnamed and unnameable, no matter HOW much adolescent attention they demand, still dwell in ignorance.

    I am concerned that someone whose work IIIII admire has somehow cast me in a way I find opprobrious to myself. I don’t like it, and if we can go slowly, as we’ve begun, step-by-step, I seek not to win your approbation, but merely, at small, at core, at bottom, your understanding of what finally, after nearly 30 years of saying nothing, brings me to the steps of a courthouse. I need you to “get” it.

    So. I ask once more: are we together SO FAR?

    If yes, we’ll move on a skosch, and trudge toward that juncture, near or far. If no, then I would take it as largesse if you would backtrack us in the tiny path we seem to have come so far, to the point where we “already diverge.” I really am not trying to put blinders on you, but if I’m to reach you at a point where you’re uncomfortable, let us do it slowly and exactly, not with silly what-ifs and scenarios festooning the underbrush as hung by flummery-meisters.

    Are we go or no-go? Please say yes or no. If yes, we’ll proceed; if no, well, I’ll try to backtrack as you direct me, but I’ll be a lot wearier.
    And if you’d rather neither, well, that’s a choice, too; and we’ll be done here. Though that would make me pout.

    Oh, and you’re welcome.

    Harlan Ellison

  102. i’ll be honest here, harlan, hope that you believe me that i am doing that. i don’t think i TOTALLY understand what i’m saying yes to. pls don’t get impatient with me (if doesn’t seem like you are, but i’m a bit worried you will). am i with you that i understand you are the same man i met at kent state and that you are still a force for good in regards to the first amendment? no. that’s the crux of my broken heart, dashed formerly great admiration. i suppose i am open to the idea that you think you are the same man and will listen intently with an open mind to your explanation. so can you take THAT as yes? if so: yes! but, before you might proceed will you, after i’ve carefully considered what your heartfelt explanation is, intently listen to me as to why i think you might consider dropping the suit if i still think you should? could i presume to thank you, again, this time in advance?–a former admirerer always open to life’s possibilities in peeksill

  103. “So if you believe I have misunderstood you that’s evidence that my professional education and experience was all a sham?”

    I have no idea what your professional education – real or professed – is. I have no idea what your experience – real or professed – is. I did not bring them into this. All I know is you took a very simple statement and proved incapable of understanding it. I went back. I read the statement. It is clear. I talked about the kind of people who feel insulted by how Harlan writes. You responded by making it about aesthetics.

    “His writing is insulting” and “His writing is good” are two seperate statements, neither exclusive or inclusive of the other. You made it clear you don’t understand that. Based on that, and some of the other statements you’ve made here, it’s pretty clear your ability to determine meaning from written words is, at least, questionable.

    Therefore, when you come to a conclusion about the meaning of a very long and very complex series of statements, I feel safe in taking your limitations into consideration. Whatever your professional and experiential credentials may be, they are irrelevant. We are discussing your ability to determine meaning. You may have a dozen PHDs or you may be a third grade dropout. Neither is relevant. You still got it wrong.

  104. Alan —

    I’m sure some who have questioned CBLDF’s non-involvement in the case have simply misinterpreted the organization’s mission and believe it to be an ATM that generally exists to fund court cases involving comics, but I do not think this misconception is a popular one. I’d be standing on shaky ground indeed were I to try and take it upon myself to argue whether this truly is or is not a First Amendment case, but the question is clearly a matter of some small controversy. Whichever way CBLDF fell on that question, some on the opposing side were bound to call foul. Damned if you, damned if you don’t; rock and a hard place; devil and the deep blue sea; etc. I’m not criticizing their decision, which I presume was made objectively. I’m saying that either decision would have wound up making them the bad guy to somebody, which — for an organization that relies on outside support for its existence — kind of is…bad.

  105. To quote myself from my original blog; “I do like Gary. I’ve always enjoyed chatting with him at parties. I like the books he publishes. I like that he’s tried to lend credibility to comics.”

    That said, my response to Gary’s solicitation, and still my continued view, is that the Comics Journal short shrifts indy cartoonists that are deemed popular in the market place. This is a view that is shared by many people other than myself. That Tom Spurgeon says that I’ve gotten a better deal than 95% of cartoonists makes my point.

    I wasn’t trying to attack Gary. I certainly don’t have a hard-on for Fantagraphics. If I have anything for Fantagraphics now, it is the opposite of a hard-on.

    I’ve never met Harlan Ellison. I’ve read his work since I was in High School. I’m a huge fan. I’m flabbergasted that he would offer to have my child. I’m game. I would love to see the hell-child that we would produce.

    Shannon

    PS: To correct the anonymous “concerned citizen”, I’ve been riding my one-note character for 13 years, not 15.

    PPS: Seriously, I haven’t drawn a Too Much Coffee Man comic in about a year. I’m doing comics for the Onion and I have a collection of new work coming out from Dark Horse this Summer, Screw Heaven, When I Die I’m Going to Mars. I’m working on a kids’ book called Grandpa Won’t Wake Up and a graphic novel called Drunk and Drunk Dwarf… obviously I need to do more self-promotion about my non-TMCM work.

  106. THIS is the first amendment. Read it several times. Then come back and explain how this is a first amendment issue. The first word is crucial.

    First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  107. the situation as i see it now that i’ve woke up on the east coast and while we wait for harlan to wake up “over there”. i’ve now, after coffee, read other other’s and my emails to find out what they and i wrote.

    harlan is willing to talk to me, i’m not sure why when i’m in agreement with g&g–groth and greenlee. it might have something to do with me being a big admirer of his work and formerly of him as a person and him of my work. and that we both go way back, longer than him and groth, and our 5 minute relationship was quite a pleasant one. and maybe its because harlan senses that i WILL try to politely and ernestly and honestly listen to him which is totally true. or maybe harlan is using me and since he really is quite more intelligent than me, i could get screwed by this, not in a good way. we shall see–that’s why we keep turning pages of books and scrolling down blogs.

    the ironies: my wife was pissed (something she is RARELY i’m happy to add) as i was typing away in bed last night and harlan’s wanted him to stop typing and was giving him The Eye. I hope that i’m, at 57, not losing interest in sex like gore vidal predicted. and hope harlan still is still interested and that his wife was giving him the ROMANTIC eye so that there’s still hope. and hope is the key word. i’ve always been the hopeful type. terribly, naively so. and been hurt (and deeply) by it many times. here i go again.

    i fantasize that somehow i’m gonna be able to get gary and harlan to kiss and make-up. oh, stupid one. harlan will form Friends of Gary (FOG) and i’ll get a pulitzer prize just like art spiegelman–mine for peace.

    oh, another irony. while i was reading all this i was watching west side story in the background. i’m tony–we all know what a mess he made of everything!

    a recap can’t be complete, for me, without mentioning colonel cornhole who, in the midst of all this surrealism, wants us to list our top five sf authors.

  108. Craig:

    Isn’t it all about the fact that Harlan and Gary are just PEOPLE. Sometimes good sometimes bad. And you can love the good and hate the bad in each (as I do) Unfortunately their own protean personalities compel them to see the world in black and white absolutes. And that’s why so many people are drawn to either side…there are few places where you can pretend a world of absolute black hats and white hats exists.

    The reality, as in so many things, is that this isn’t about life or death or good or evil or freedom or God. It’s just about people.

    Personally I am most excited about Shannon’s new book GRANDPA WON’T WAKE UP.

  109. sorry, heidi, for me much of it, all of it, really, at the end of the day ,is about freedom…of the press. and i might be convinced that harlan’s core and heartfelt motivation isn’t to limit that. but, he has a very long way to go before he can convince me that the consequences of his actions couldn’t scarily impede that. i’ll listen…

  110. Pacer —

    While most of us are (I hope) familiar with the text you quoted, from grade school if nothing else, the interpretation of same is best left to those with law degrees, of which I myself am not one. Such people make enormous sums of money by selling their services, and for a good reason. Those who elect not to hire such people and instead deem it appropriate to defend themselves in a court of law are often said to have fools for clients, and for a VERY good reason. As I am not a fool and (I presume) you are not an attorney, it would be unseemly and ultimately pointless for you and I to debate whether this or any case fits the definition. Point blank, we’re out of our element. That two opposing parties, both in possession of professional legal counsel, have drawn opposing conclusions on this matter leads me to believe that there must be at least a little wiggle room. This may be the only time in the entire storied history of internet message boards that anyone has ever argued that insufficient knowledge of law and fact has led that person to the conclusion that he lacks the necessary background to submit an informed opinion, and therefore won’t try, but there you have it. Ignorance — of the kind that can only be corrected by several years of post-graduate studies; will you wait for me, Pacer? — is not often known to stop people from expressing (loudly) their views on a matter, but it does stop me. That’s just how I roll. Sorry if that offends.

  111. Mike,

    ” That two opposing parties, both in possession of professional legal counsel, have drawn opposing conclusions on this matter leads me to believe that there must be at least a little wiggle room.”

    We have no way of knowing what the attorneys in question have determined. We only know what the clients have stated publicly.

    We know Ellison has an unimpeachable record fighting for the First Amendment.

    We know the CBLDF turned down Fantagraphics request for aid.

    I will keep saying it – Groth’s attempt to paint himself as a First Amendment martyr is an insult to those who have actually fought for our right to free expression. I understand that he’s trying to win a PR war with Ellison, but it does indicate a willingness to ignore any ethical or moral boundaries, and that leads me to throw my support behind Ellison.

  112. Pacer–

    As far as I know, the courts have interpreted the First Amendment broadly to encompass ALL branches of government, including the judicial one. Therefore, a lawsuit between two individuals MIGHT have first amendment implications, by virtue of the fact that a government entity of some sort is necessary to make and enforce a decision.

    I’ll leave it to greater legal minds than my own to decide if Groth vs. Ellison qualifies.

  113. Pacer wrote: “THIS is the first amendment. Read it several times. Then come back and explain how this is a first amendment issue. The first word is crucial.

    First Amendment: Congress shall…”

    And your point would be…?

    Because if you are saying that only a strict interpretation of this statement applies, then anyone outside of Congress, be it the President, the Supreme Court, the state goverments, any mayor, any police department, the dean of any local public college, or any other public official can legally limit free speech and censor whatever they want, whenever they want.

  114. i’m back. i was gone momentarily to hang curtains. can you imagine? i’m here trying to single-handedly save the free world and freedom of the press and the wife wants me to hang curtains? and gary and harlan think they have problems. i see harlan ain’t here yet and it’s my turn to wait……………………

    well, while i’m waiting i’ll answer colonel cornhole’s question about who’s my top five favorite sf writers:
    1) Harlan Ellison
    2) Gary Groth
    3) Heidi MacDonald
    4) Kevin Greenlee
    5) Craig Yoe
    Harlan wins by the shear basis that he’s done more in the field than all the rest put together. But, you can’t discount #s 2-5. I apologise for not-so-humbly including myself, albiet last. i have to be humble, but I hope at least some of you put me at the TOP of your list! it’s all subjective.

    Well, I see Harlan’s still not here. Curtains for you, Harlan?
    Later…

  115. Scott D. wrote: “As far as I know, the courts have interpreted the First Amendment broadly to encompass ALL branches of government, including the judicial one. ”

    And therein lies the rub.

    Public and private lawsuits can obviously restrict free speech, and can, in effect shut down any newspaper, magazine or other free speech vehicle just as effectively as can a group of storm troopers breaking down a publishers door and wrecking all the presses.

  116. Thanks for the list, but Mack Three was saying “the greatest,” not “his favorites.” I think Ellison makes a top 15, and maybe top 10, list of greatest SF writers.

    My 5 Greatest SF Writers (A-Z):

    Asimov
    Bradbury
    Clarke
    Crichton
    Heinlein

    Yeah, the inclusion of Crichton is going to pain some people, especially since lately he’s been writing bad screen treatments instead of novels, but his influence on the culture is pretty huge.

  117. CRAIG:

    You’ve got curtains, kiddo. I’ve got Susan.

    My love for her, and her concern that this activity is tarnishing what she calls my “knight in shining armor” appearance in her eyes, leads me to ask of you a change of venue. (I take the sincerity evident in your last few posts while waiting for me as encouragement to ask of you what follows. It is my hope that you will hear the same sincerity echoing in my request.)

    Ibsen wrote: “To live is to war with trolls.”

    My honey has made it VERY VERY clear that she fears as I have gazed into the abyss, so the abyss has gazed back into me, and I may be taking on the manners of the trolls. Craig, I cannot see my wife cry.

    This is a conversation now accessible to me only man-to-man, one-on-one, without street-gawkers and side-bettors. My side, the other side, anybody.

    I am no less concerned this morning than I was late last night, to reach you with at least simple logic and explanation for this suit against Groth and NOT in any way The Holy (to me, as it was 30 years ago) First Amendment.

    Let us talk. Please ask Heidi to give you my personal number. Call me collect, if you wish. Or get it from Mike Richardson. Or even from Groth, who has had it forever, because he’s had his reporters, via duplicitous intros, try to get me to “make a statement” about this-or-that over the years. Call me.

    Please call me.

    But here, Heidi, I’m sorry, dear lady; Susan’s composure means more to me than risking the savaging of strangers.

    Call me. Harlan (who is saddened to’ve lost your goodwill)

  118. Dear Mr. Ellison,

    It is good to see you have remembered the most important thing:

    It’s the internet, Jake. Walk away.

  119. heidi, email me harlan’s number please.
    harlan, i had a heart attack a little over a year ago where i was THIS CLOSE to checking out. i’ve learned to try and avoid stress and to listen to loved ones, especially devoted caring wives. god, i hate myself for saying this since you might take it wrong but that’s one of the reasons i don’t get this lawsuit. why do you need the stress. heck, i found even myself feeling it–which i don’t need. spend the time with susan, not with lawyers. write your great creative stuff, not briefs and blogs, cuddle in bed don’t ca-ca in courtrooms, etc, etc, this is the kind of stuff i’ll tell you on the phone. and avoid at all cost something that might limit free expression (the later a lesson learned by me from *Good Old* Harlan Ellison). are you ready to talk? heidi, you have my personal email, now where’s that number?

  120. I think this is now effectively over, but in response to what Steve said —

    We have no way of knowing what the attorneys in question have determined. We only know what the clients have stated publicly.

    That’s an excellent point, and one that is followed immediately by a take on Groth’s rationale that can be arrived at only by complete guesswork. This is guesswork as well, but I’ll tell you what I think is probably the case:

    Though a court may find one to be right and the other to be wrong, I have no doubt that both parties wholly believe themselves to be in the right. I think it is safe to say that both parties have displayed long-standing devotion to free speech. But I do not believe this makes either party an authority on what is and is not covered by the First Amendment. As I am no such authority myself, and pretty much see this case as an Alien Vs. Predator scenario (whoever wins, everyone loses), I find myself unable to muster up much enthusiasm for either outcome.

    (On a purely selfish level, I’d be happy to see Fantagraphics not go bankrupt, because I enjoy much of what they publish. I imagine that Mr. Ellison would stop the case short of grave financial injury to himself…I mean, I hope so. Since nobody asked, though, it wouldn’t make me giddy to see a favorite writer and hero of my youth go broke, either.)

  121. Harlan has stated repeatedly, in public, that his intention is not the bankruptcy of Fantagraphics, and that the publishing house being named in the suit has to do with legal specificities. His beef is with Groth and Thompson, and limited to the damage they have intended to do to him. He has no intention of closing down their (as he has said, often quite noble) publishing house.

  122. Uh…yeah, but if the publishing house goes broke in the course of paying its legal fees, no more publishing house. The case does not take place in a vacuum; there are potential consequences, and a protracted court battle causing both parties to hemorrhage cash is one of those.

  123. “The case does not take place in a vacuum; there are potential consequences, and a protracted court battle causing both parties to hemorrhage cash is one of those.”

    Yup. And if I were considering spending the next couple of decades hounding and attacking a guy who is A) known to be litigious, and B) always wins, I’d think twice before putting my company at risk to pursue such a petty personal agenda.

    This is clearly the case of a guy saying, “Enough,” and if Groth takes Fantagraphics down with him, he has only himself to blame.

  124. As a coda to the 1st Amendment issue, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that Steve O’Malley’s circumscribed view of free speech and the 1st Amendment holds any water.

    O’Malley’s literal minded interpretation of the 1st Amendment would hold that only Congress can interfere with the speech rights of its citizens. This is prima facie absurd, and there is no 1st Amendment scholar who believes any such thing. (Our own lawyers work for a firm specializing in 1st Amendment suits and took on this case precisely because they have such expertise in 1st Amendment law.)

    O’Malley should understand that actions have consequences and a frivolous libel suit will have a chilling effect on free speech; it is, nefariously, a way for Ellison to insulate himself from any rigoirous criticism for the rest of his days. Who, after all, would be willing to criticize Ellison for anything at all if the cost of the privilege were $200- or $300,000? I suspect this point would be driven home to O’Malley if I forced him to spend $300,000 to call me a coward.

    O’Malley has not addressed the question of whether Ellison was lying in 1987 when he referred to the underlying 1st Amendment significance of the Fleischer lawsuit or he’s lying now when he says there’s no 1st Amendment issue whatsoever surrounding an almost identical libel suit of his own. And don’t try to do a fast shuffle and weasle around the similarities: Fleischer claimed that there were FACTUAL issues in dispute over what Ellison said about him —Ellison’s assertion that he was “fired” from the Spectre, for example, or Ellison’s gross mis-quotation of the PW review— and that Ellison’s coments were not simply “fair comment.”

    Nor has O’Malley bothered to address the 1st Amendment implications of the part of Ellison’s alsuit about Right of Publicity. Since Ellison won’t answer Greenlee’s question as to its 1st Amendment importance, maybe O’Malley’d like to take a crack at it. Here it is, wrote from Greenlee:

    “One of the things you are suing over is Mr. Groth’s use of your name on a book which reprinted an interview of you which even you have conceded they own. Since they have the right to use the interview, the current state of first amendment law clearly gives them the right to use your name to let people know about the reprinted interview. If you prevail on this count, you will therefore have succeeded in changing the law in such a way that limits current first amendment free speech protections not just for Mr. Groth but for all publishers everywhere. Considering that (and without even getting into the other parts of your case), how can you claim your suit has no first amendment implications?”

    No, the sad fact is, this lawsuit will taint Ellison’s legacy as a 1st Amendment champion and as an essayist and polemicist for as long as he is still read. Instead of writing a vigorous and devastating response to whatever he is objecting to, of the kind for which he is so famous and in which he takes such pride, he has signalled his lack of confidence in his own abilities to do so and his own lack of faith in the public realm and of his oiwn readers to inteligently air public issues; instead of using words to rebut the criticisms of him, he’s resorted to a form of economic extortion.

    That is all I have to say on the subject at this time. I have a lawsuit to win. (A note to our supporters: If our appeal to the 9th circuit is successful, Ellison will have to reimburse us our legal bills!)

  125. Alan Coil said:

    “And beside that, Groth doesn’t believe in insurance against libel, for certainly wouldn’t he have had some insurance against being sued for libel?”

    Does anyone happen to have a link to this statement re: belief?

  126. Notice that every time Groth mentions the lawsuit, he inserts the word frivolous. Groth appears to be using the propagada tactics of the extreme right. Demonize your opponent until all others hate him.

    A main difference between the Fleisher case and this one is that the first case originated from 1 interview (and most likely would not have if Groth hadn’t stirred the pot). This case is a result of approximately a quarter-century of antagonism by Groth against Ellison. This started shortly after Ellison got fed up with Groth shooting his mouth off about the first case while it was ongoing.

    Had Groth merely stuck to criticisms of Ellison’s work, there would be no lawsuit at all. Because Groth insisted on stirring the pot over the years, constantly sticking his nose in things where he should not, he has caused this lawsuit to happen against himself.

    And it’s still not a 1st Amendment issue no matter how many time Groth says it is, nor no matter how many times Groth’s new friend Greenlee says it is. Why? Because it is about a guy with a bully pulpit (Groth) poking and prodding someone who didn’t want to waste time with him finally getting mad enough to slap back. Now Groth wants to go crying to mommy, saying, “He hit me!” Well, tough.

    If Fantagraphics goes out of business, I will feel for the employees and creators if affects. But Groth should have considered that back when he was doing all these things he has been alleged to have done. Saddam Hussein kept playing games with the rest of the world. Look what happened to him.

  127. Alan, in fairness, I’d just like to point out that someone might liken a comparison to Saddam Hussein to demonization, and certainly to the tactics of the far right. It’s not somehow different because it’s you.

    (If a filter could be applied that would remove all bombast, hyperbole and namecalling, this thread would probably be about 1000 words long.)

  128. Mike,

    Perhaps, but there’s a school of thought that says if he’s going to dish it out, he needs to be able to take it. Groth has made a passion out of hounding Ellison, and trying to damage his standing. One can speculate that it comes from a self destructive urge, as Ellison is pretty notorious for coming out on top in these things. But whatever it is that caused Groth to behave this way all these years, there is no arguing that he is finally reaping what he has sown, and for him to whine that he’s the victim and to paint himself as some kind of martyr is absolutely absurd.

    He also hides behind his company, which does absolutely spectacular work. It would be terrible if the end result were Fantagraphics went out of business, but if that does happen, Groth is to blame, and all the consequences should be heaped on his head.

  129. Alan Coil said:

    “And beside that, Groth doesn’t believe in insurance against libel, for certainly wouldn’t he have had some insurance against being sued for libel?”

    Using the same logic, it could be said that I don’t believe in, say, Lamborghinis because otherwise wouldn’t I have figured out a way to buy one?

    But the fact that Mr. Coil couldn’t support his statement regarding Mr. Groth’s personal beliefs about insurance shouldn’t come as a surprise. Earlier in this thread, Mr. Coil attempted to discredit me by posting a demonstrable untruth. I asked for him to apologize for his error and he cannot be bothered to do so. It is difficult to take seriously the words of someone who apparently has so little regard for basic standards of truth and accuracy (especially when that person is also capable of seriously comparing someone he doesn’t particularly fancy to Saddam Hussein).

    This is not a first amendment case because Gary Groth says it is and it is not a first amendment case because I or anyone else say it is. This is in fact a first amendment case because it actually does raise serious first amendment issues and would- if Ellison won- restrict the free speech rights of American publishers. I wonder- instead of comparing Gary Groth to a mass murderer or calling me a tarbaby can anyone who doubts this is a first amendment case actually reply in a serious and substantial way to the one basic question I- and now Gary Groth- have repeatedly posted? Or will they just think up more personal insults?

    One more question for those who insist on looking at this case through the lens of their personal views of Messrs Groth and Ellison. If George W. Bush trademarked his name and then sued Bob Woodward for putting his name on the cover of “State of Denial” would you consider that case to have first amendment implications?

  130. Wait wait wait.

    First, Gary Groth and Kevin Greenlee, answer this question:

    Is Harlan from the US Federal or a US State goverment agency?

    Why do I ask? Well, this all reminds me of Sanford Wallace, a spammer and scammer who was sued, rather successfully I may add, by AOL, Compuserv, and Earthlink to name a few. Sanford, as head of Cyber Promotions, claimed that he had First Amendment protection against the lawsuits. This was roughly ten years go, before the DMCA and CAN SPAM.

    You two will probably say “But this is different! It’s not spam!” to which you’ll dismiss the point before you even hear it. The judges ruled against Sanford, saying that since AOL (in a lawsuit to stop him clogging their members’ email boxes) wasn’t a state entity nor on record empowered to be one, Sanford could not use the First Amendment to protect himself against the lawsuit.

    AOL v. Cyber Promotions is here: http://legal.web.aol.com/decisions/dljunk/cyber.html
    And you should be able to verify that for a little bit of cash via PACER.

    Harlan is much smaller than AOL and these ISP’s that have sued Sanford.

    So, Gary and Kevin. Is Harlan from the Government?

    It is recommended you do not go down the same road Sanford went down.

  131. CJ —

    I myself can’t judge this on the basis of personality or FBI profiler-style projections of the self into the mind and motivations of either gentleman. Based only on having spent my adult life (and much of my pre-adult life) as a reader of both, it is enormously difficult for me to regard either of them as an innocent and put-upon babe in the woods. I mean this in the most complimentary way possible. Problem is, then, who to side with? From my outsider’s perspective, neither seems significantly more prone to antagonism than the other. There is, for me, no clear moral choice. If I knew these people, maybe then. As it stands…no. Yes, I could decide to side with Harlan Ellison because my fifteen-year-old self finished reading “A Boy and His Dog” and declared him the one true God (this may have been premature, though it remains an all-time favorite story), or because his adaptation of Stephen King’s “Gramma” still creeps me out. But these things do not seem relevant to the matter at hand. Which is a legal matter that — again — I suspect involves two people who both believe themselves to be right, and which I think is best decided in a court of law, by professionals in possession of all of the evidence.

    So — neutral. But you’re welcome to feel any way you want.

    So is Alan. My only gripe there was that he was engaging in exactly the behavior he was criticizing. This is generally agreed upon as being bad form.

  132. Herr Greenlee,

    I graduated from Princeton with a BA in English Literature and from Georgetown Law. Yes, you know who I am. While your strategy seems, on the surface, to be the best chance you have for winning, it is certainly transparent and therefore can be countered.

    “Is this a 1st Amendment case?” — the burden is proof. THAT is why they won’t answer your question, assuming they are listening to their own lawyers of course.

    I value my privacy, and choose to post anonymously. I have nothing to gain in this, and much potential grief to shoulder. My anonymity is the 1st Amendment in action.

    Frau Price: is it your contention that only the government can restrict free speech? do you think the court is not part of the government and that their judgement would not be considered law?

  133. Thanks for the post, Kelly. It’s a real treat to see to see a comment here that doesn’t call me any names or includes wholly fictitious charges about me.

    To answer your question, no- of course Harlan Ellison is not from the government.

    Now let me try to explain why that fact- as well as the case you cited- are irrelevant to the current lawsuit. In a nutshell. the basic issues are completely different.

    I’m going to simplify things a bit because I’m fairly sure that no one- including me!- wants a long winded explanation. The post office is an example of a government agency that handles communications from the public. We all know and understand thatr- because of the first amendment- the post office can’t suddenly decide that, for instance, they’re going to stop letting me mail letters because they don’t like me. They have to treat everyone equally.

    Sanford Wallace tried to argue that the same sort of thing applied to AOL- that, in other words, the first amendment required AOL to let him use their email system to deliver any emails he wanted to any of their customers. The court, as you point out, ruled against him. They said that since AOL was a private company they could put restrictions on the use of their email system that a governmental agency could not.

    The relevant decision can be found at http://legal.web.aol.com/decisions/dljunk/cyberorderf.html

    The case is not relevant here because Gary Groth is in no way alleging that Harlan Ellison denied him access to use a “Harlan Ellison” forum (ie, email or snail mail).

  134. Dirk Gently said : “Yes, you know who I am.”

    I admit you’ve got me curious. If I was Harlan Ellison, I’d ask Heidi to email you my phone number!

    But, for what it’s worth, I don’t think I have any strategy- transparent or otherwise. I’d just like to see Harlan Ellison- or one of his supporters- explain why a case that would result in reducing free speech protections for everyone should not be considered a free speech case.

  135. So is EVERY libel/slander/defamation case a First Amendment issue? How is this different from Tom Cruise suing the Enquirer?

  136. Gary Groth said: “(A note to our supporters: If our appeal to the 9th circuit is successful, Ellison will have to reimburse us our legal bills!)”

    Does that mean, sir, that, should you prevail against Mr. Ellison in court, you will return all the money you raised via donations and sales to the people that provided that money?

  137. I just saw this on CBR in Rich Johnston’s column. Of course since its a legal matter between Harlan Ellison and Gary Groth I doubt many of us really know all the details behind it and the case when it comes right down to it.

    He wrote “City on the Edge of Forever ” and did numerous other things that we as people can never touch. I compare it to a a fun scenerio if Roger Clemons ever sued the Rd Sox for being jackasses for thinking he was washed up in the late 90’s. (Those fuckers paid when the ROCKET took the Yankees to the World Sries didn;t they ?)

    Anyhow…good luck both sides. I hope this gets resolved at some point. :)

  138. Fred said : “So is EVERY libel/slander/defamation case a First Amendment issue?”

    No- and this is going to get a bit long.

    Perhaps the first thing to note is that this is not just a libel case. Ellison is also suing over his right to publicity, a right he claims was violated when Fantagraphics put his name on the cover of a book which reprinted an interview they owned.

    This might be a good time to include a quote from an unbiased source, a source which is neither pro Ellison or pro Groth. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Publishing Law center:

    Quote:
    The First Amendment permits a publisher to use an individual’s name or photograph on a book or magazine cover when the book is about the individual or the magazine contains an article on the individual but the name or photograph should be used in way that accurately represents the content of the publication. When an individual is the subject of a biography or news article it is permissible to use that individual’s name and/or likeness in advertising and promoting the publication. A publisher may also use the name and photograph of any persons whose ideas are discussed in a publication in promoting the publication. (from their article on the right of publicity, which you can read in full at http://www.publaw.com/rightpriv.html )

    In other words, Ellison is suing over something which our reliable and unbiased source clearly states is covered by the first amendment. If his point of view prevails, his action will therefore change and weaken the first amendment protection enjoyed not just by Fantagraphics but by all of us. Considering this, how can anyone claim this case does not have first amendment implications?

    And then we come to the libel part of the suit. While it is true that libel is not covered by the first amendment it is also true that it is very common indeed for persons and organizations to falsely cry “libel!” in an attempt to stifle speech about themselves which they do not like. No less a figure than Harlan Ellison himself- in an essay in TCJ 115- writes about people who try to “infringe our First Amendment rights to Fair Comment by the blustering threat of litigation.” And he goes on to describe the end result of the Fleischer libel suit as “a verdict in defense of the First Amendment.” *

    Since even Ellison concedes the point, it seem obvious that at least some libel suits actually do have first amendment implications. Does this one?

    The trick, I suppose, is to try to figure out if Ellison is using this suit to try to right any harm done to him by the alleged libels or if he is instead just interested in stifling their speech about him. Let’s consider a few quick points-

    – the alleged libels appeared in print in Gauntlet in 1995 and were subsequently republished on harlanellison.com. Ellison made no complaints about these earlier publications. This suggests to me that the earlier publications did him no harm. His failure to complain to the Gauntlet people or to his own website also makes me suspect he’s only interested in targeting specific speakers. In other words, harlanellison.com and Gauntlet can say what they want about him but Fantagraphics has to play by different rules. Doesn’t that sound like he’s trying to stifle Fanta’s free speech rights?

    – In comments on his message board, Ellison wrote that his purpose in this lawsuit is to “GET GROTH & CO. TO LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!!!!” Since Fantagraphics’ only relationship with Ellison is what they write about him, he is basically saying the purpose of this suit is to get Fantagraphics to stop writing about him. Doesn’t that sound like he’s trying to stifle Fanta’s free speech rights?

    – On another message board, Ellison told a poster who said that the purpose of this suit was “to whomp Groth upside the head” that he was “dead on correct.” This sounds to me as if he were less interested in righting any harms caused him by the libel and that he is more interested in punishing Fantagraphics. Punishing people who say things you don’t like…. doesn’t that sound like he’s trying to stifle Fanta’s free speech rights?

    – And, of course, the documents that Fanta has posted support the basic truth of the alleged libels.

    All of these points lead me to conclude that what we have here is not a case of actual libel but rather an instance in which someone is using a libel suit as a vehicle to stifle the free speech rights of people he doesn’t like. Even Ellison- in the TCJ 115 essay- understands how such cases have very clear first amendment implications.

    *Any of you that happens to have a copy of TCJ 115 lying around should really dig it out and re read the Ellison essay- much of it is newly relevant to the current case (though not in ways Ellison would appreciate). You know all the people who choose sides in cases like this based on their personal feelings for the parties involved? Ellison lets ’em have it! And a person’s “friends” who egg them on in frivolous lawsuits? Ellison lets ’em have it too! Definitely a fun read.

  139. So tell us, Harlie: where *did* the Harlequin get all those jellybeans?

    (Is CBLDF taking donations that can be targeted to help out Gary’s cause? I’d love to donate and help out with any effort to put the Midget with a Mouth in his place once and for all!)

  140. “My honey has made it VERY VERY clear that she fears as I have gazed into the abyss, so the abyss has gazed back into me, and I may be taking on the manners of the trolls. Craig, I cannot see my wife cry.”

    Guess she’d better not buy you any jellybeans then, eh?

  141. Li’l Harlie babbled:

    “Admiration aside, kiddo, you have YOUR idea of what slander/libel/protectable speech/non-protectable speech is …

    … and I have mine.”

    Just goes to show you that for every one thousand rational interpretations of the law, there’ll always be one deranged dwarf whose interpretations are totally overwhelmed and distorted by their mental illness. Just goes to show you that Gene, Herb and Bob were right all along: you *do* need to be either locked up, or knocked off your high horse before your asshole permanently metastasizes to that ten-foot corncob embedded in the saddle.

    Let’s see you sue me over *that* observation, son.

  142. “So is EVERY libel/slander/defamation case a First Amendment issue? How is this different from Tom Cruise suing the Enquirer?”

    The Scametologists have better sense than to support someone like Harlan Ellison??

  143. Sorry, but every time something like this happens, I just have to grab the popcorn. Thank you all so very much.
    Welcome to the Internet, the greatest soap opera ever invented.

  144. Wow. I spend two weeks off doing book promotions, and come back to a thread that takes an HOUR to read.

    I read the original post about Shannon, and I think it’s a little overblown – I mean, it comes down to Gary asking for someone’s support and being declined. The reasons were a great catalyst for speculating and opinioneering (as said my dear friend Tony Isabella, quoted above by Harlan), but it’s a side issue to what is largely a personal matter between two men (Harlan and Gary).

    I’ve known both of them casually for about fifteen years, not enough to really consider either a friend, but certainly friendly acquaintances. I’ve had dinner with both at various comics industry events; traded books with Gary for years; and can attest to the fact that a Diamond Trade Show exhibit hall is more fun to walk in the company of Susan Ellison, who is a very sensible human being.

    So – both men have been an influence on me professionally; and both are considered by me to be at least dinner-companion-acquaintances (which, to me, means I’d give either a hand if they asked).

    My first reaction to the story about Gary/Shannon was that had Gary asked me, I would have offered support (and probably will, still, without him having to ask), because I like and respect him, and if someone asks for help, they probably need it. But I’d then want to spend a lot more time examining specifically what was occurring in the whole brouhaha – because my INITIAL reaction to the suit was not to be surprised.

    Of COURSE Harlan sued him. Without going into specific legalities (which others are doing better upthread anyway), anybody can sue anyone for anything. And Gary pretty much asked for it.

    As I said, it’s a personal matter (that may have become a larger matter), and it’s about respect. Sure, Gary had the right to publish the interview – but I sympathized immediately with Harlan when I saw the cover that listed him as a “Comics Dilettante”.

    Anyone who knows anything at ALL about Harlan Ellison (and Gary knows more than I think either of them are happy with) knows that he’s very aggressive about causes he believes in. And there aren’t many bigger causes than the defense of one’s own reputation.

    Gary knew (KNEW) what kind of reaction that tag would invoke. And to publish an interview (rightfully) which would draw readers and sales (rightfully) then in the next breath disrespect the very creator being interviewed on the cover of the book…

    First amendment and free speech issues are serious – and I’m not caught up enough on this to comment either way. But whatever its turning (or has turned) into, it didn’t begin that way. It began as a matter of respect. And whatever their history, Harlan deserved more than that cover line afforded him.

  145. “but I sympathized immediately with Harlan when I saw the cover that listed him as a “Comics Dilettante”. “

    Because he misspelled “dildo”.

  146. “Any of you that happens to have a copy of TCJ 115 lying around should really dig it out and re read the Ellison essay”

    I would, but I used it to line my birdcage. The even sadder part is that Harlan’s blabberings bored my poor parrot to death. I had to nail the bloody thing to it’s perch!

  147. The whole discussion here is spurious and seems to be some sort of performance theatre.

    Ellison’s attorney’s have no doubt told him he has no legitimate case. He clearly is doing it just to annoy Groth et al. This will never go to trial.

  148. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. ”

    There, it’s simple. No law can be passed prohibiting one’s right to speak as they see fit, nor print as they see fit. Case closed, and Harlan is left with egg on his face once again! Let justice be done!!!

  149. “n comments on his message board, Ellison wrote that his purpose in this lawsuit is to “GET GROTH & CO. TO LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!!!!” Since Fantagraphics’ only relationship with Ellison is what they write about him, he is basically saying the purpose of this suit is to get Fantagraphics to stop writing about him. Doesn’t that sound like he’s trying to stifle Fanta’s free speech rights?”

    He’s clearly told Groth many, many times to stop baiting him. Groth is clearly baiting Ellison – there’s absolutely no doubt about that. He’s fixated on him, and Ellison’s had enough. If I tell you to shut the fuck up, I may be being rude, but I’m not stomping on your personal liberties.

    Groth needs to cowboy up and face the consequences of his stupid actions.

    Golden Apple,

    “Ellison’s attorney’s have no doubt told him he has no legitimate case. He clearly is doing it just to annoy Groth et al. This will never go to trial.”

    Considering that Ellison has won every case he’s ever brought except for one that settled in his favor, what would lead you to such a ridiculous conclusion?

    Groth’s toast. I’ll bet you he knows it as well. How delusional would one have to be to believe he was going to be the first person to lose to Ellison in a courtroom?

    Mike,

    “Based only on having spent my adult life (and much of my pre-adult life) as a reader of both,”

    This is just a quibble, but don’t you think it’s kind of wrong to equate an editor with an actual writer? The two are not creative peers.

  150. Plok,

    Why would you ask such a ridiculous question?

    It is said that no matter how lunatic the view, if you search long enough, you can find someone who holds it. The internet makes it easier. Please, Plok, since you seem to be taking the position no rational human being possibly could, I’d rather hear you explain how they ARE creative peers. Because that’s what the internet excells at – giving cultural illiterate a podium from which to espouse their silliness.

  151. Oh my God, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!

    Christ, what a jackass! Forget I mentioned it, the LAST thing I want is to hear you elaborate on anything else! Holy crap!

  152. CJ —

    Groth has written quite a bit in the pages of TCJ. Most of us are probably not the creative peers of Harlan Ellison at his best, but in the sense that both guys have had a history of looking at blank sheets of paper and filling them with words that were subsequently published for mass consumption, they have performed the same task, and can both be appropriately termed writers.

  153. Mr. Greenlee poses the question:

    “1) One of the things you are suing over is Mr. Groth’s use of your name on a book which reprinted an interview of you which even you have conceded they own. Since they have the right to use the interview, the current state of first amendment law clearly gives them the right to use your name to let people know about the reprinted interview.”

    Mr. Greenlee’s reading comprehension is troubling. The specific claim, found in Mr. Ellison’s initial complaint RE the matter of his name is that (Point 28 of the complaint):

    “Defendants, without Plaintiff’s authorization, knowingly used and continue to use Plaintiff’s name on the cover of, and in the contents of, a Fantagraphics commercial publication entitled The Comics Journal Library 6: The Writers, the focus of which is apparently an array of views, essays or other commentary by well-known writers on the subject of comics. The use of Plaintiff’s name aids Fantagraphics in the sale of this product.”

    This, per the complaint, is in violation of California Civil Code Section 3344, which states:

    “(a) Any person who knowingly uses another’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such person’s prior consent, or, in the case of a minor, the prior consent of his parent or legal guardian, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof.”

    It’s not about the use of the name. it’s about the use of the name WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT.

    So to say Mr. Ellison is suing because Fantagraphics used his name on the book is a willful misrepresentation by Mr. Greenlee to sell the big lie of this being something with broad First Amendment ramifications – Harlan Crush Puny Humans Who Speak His Name.

    But it isn’t. Mr. Greenlee’s question omits the fact of the permission required under the California code under which Mr. Ellison is suing. It’s Mr. Groth not obtaining Mr. Ellison’s CONSENT to use his name on the cover of the book – NOT the mere use of the name – that is the crux of the matter, because to do so without his consent is in violation of the California Civil Code.

    Does Fantagraphics own the interview? Not in dispute. I think a fair question would be that with all of the possible interviews at their disposal, why would Fantagraphics reprint the chosen Ellison interview? Mr. Groth has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t think Mr. Ellison is much of a deal in the comics industry, be it with his review of Mr. Ellison’s comics piece in Playboy, or with the “Famous Comics Dilettante” label. Why waste valuable printing space/costs on an interview with someone he labels as amateurish, a dabbler, unless it somehow translated into a value for Fantagraphics? Mr. Groth’s own publicly stated views make it impossible for him to claim Mr. Ellison’s views on comics have any value to him or his book of interviews. That leaves the Ellison name (and corresponding crossover sales with people who may not read comics, but do read Mr. Ellison). And again, including the interview for the sake of Mr. Ellison’s name, as a tactic to boost sales, WITHOUT obtaining Mr. Ellison’s consent violates California Civil Code Section 3344. (“Any person who knowingly uses another’s name… in any manner, on or in products…”)

    Mr. Greenlee can omit the pertinent “without your permission” from his questioning until the cows return, but to do so misleads people into thinking there are broad First Amendment issues at play. There aren’t. The key here is entirely one of PRIOR CONSENT. California law allows Mr. Ellison redress if Mr. Groth does not obtain prior consent to use his name on the book. Mr. Groth chose not to. In doing so, Mr. Groth violated the civil code, and Mr. Groth is being sued for it, among other things.

    The First Amendment aspect is shuck and jive hysteria Mr. Groth and Mr. Greenlee wish to sow in an attempt to bail Mr. Groth out from what amounts to a bad business practice.

  154. Sunny Jim–

    You forgot to mention this part of California Civil Code 3344: “(d) For purposes of this section, a use of a name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness in connection with any news, public affairs, or sports broadcast or account, or any political campaign, shall not constitute a use for which consent is required under subdivision (a).”

    Wouldn’t the Ellison interview be considered public affairs?

  155. You beat me to it, Scott! Instead of spending so much time composing a lengthy post lambasting me for my poor reading skills, Sunny Jim would perhaps have been better served by more carefully reading the statute he accused me of misunderstanding.

    I’ll just quickly note that the California courts have a VERY broad definition of what constitutes public affairs. They have, for instance, found that a documentary on surfing fell into the category of “public affairs.” Certainly, then, an interview in which a writer as well known and as highly regarded as Harlan Ellison discusses the popular art form of comics would also be considered “public affairs.”

  156. Guys, no name calling! I’ve removed a few posts that were overly personal.

    I may close this down after today…seems to be winding down anyway but it’s also scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  157. I’m against name calling but I don’t think it’s scraping the bottom to finally be addressing the points of law that have been danced around for a couple of days. At the point where terms are actually being defined I’m suddenly interested.

    – Barney Dannelke

  158. Alan C.– since you’re the one who asserted what beliefs Groth has re: libel insurance, the burden of proof is on you.

    I don’t choose to post at the TCJ messboard, so I’m not likely to ask anyone anything there. If no one here happens to be able to provide me with a precise statement as to why FBI doesn’t currently have libel insurance, then I’ll just go my merry way.

    I will note that while in his 3/5/07 Journalista blog, Dirk Deppey refuted the idea that libel insurance pays all the bills, but since it is still seems to me desireable to have it rather than not have it, Deppey’s following statement:

    “(While we’re on the subject, what do you suppose the premiums would be to insure a publisher who fought and prevailed in three costly legal battles, one right after the other, rather than settled out-of-court for more modest amounts? And: Would those premiums be worth the money to you if you didn’t believe the insurance would even provide you with the funds necessary for the legal representation you needed during such suits?)”

    …is merely speculative, not an actual statement as to why FBI currently has no libel insurance (which seems to be what most people are saying now).

    I don’t put any particular fiendish characterization on FBI for not having had it (re: Meth’s “scam”), but if FBI reps are stating publicly for the record that they don’t have it, I’d be mildly curious to know why not. Again, if no one’s seen anything– “merry way” and all that.

  159. On 05/7/07 at 5:31 pm, Kevin Greenlee said:

    “But the fact that Mr. Coil couldn’t support his statement regarding Mr. Groth’s personal beliefs about insurance shouldn’t come as a surprise.”

    Actually, while Mr. Coil either chose not to search for the specific statements, or didn’t remember where they were printed, that doesn’t make his beliefs wrong.

    In a comment here: http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2007/03/02/lee%e2%80%99s-comics-announces-fund-raiser-for-fantagraphics-at-wonder-con/ time stamped : 03/6/07 at 1:11 pm, Mr. Thompson says: “As for the whole issue of why we don’t have libel insurance: It’s very expensive — it is, in fact, particularly expensive when the company has a history of being sued for libel (which we have, three times — all silly lawsuits, all eventual defeats for the plaintiffs), for the same reason that hurricane insurance is a lot more expensive when your house has been knocked down three times by hurricanes in the past. Moreover, if you’ve relying on your libel insurance, you have to then accept the insurance-company laywers, who are not necessarily the best and whose prime loyalty is to avoid costing the insurance company money, not helping you defend the case — OR you can, as we did with the original Ellison/Fleisher case, insist on hiring your own counsel and paying for that.”

    This is a useful insight into the mind of Mr. Groth’s partner, and while one could then assume it is an opinion shared by Mr. Groth, that assumption is not necessary, since Mr. Groth is quoted stating his personal disdain for such insurance here, under the heading of “Comics Industry”: http://tcj.com/journalista/?p=304 He is quoted as saying: “We published a six-issue benefit book called Anything Goes that raised money. We sold t-shirts and generally beat the drum. About two years into the lawsuit, we discovered that this chintzy business insurance policy we had covered the lawsuit. But, because we had our own attorney and not an insurance company attorney, it only covered two-thirds of the attorney’s fees — the difference between what an insurance company lawyer gets paid and what a real lawyer gets paid — so we were still paying immense legal bills over the course of seven years.”

    Their separate and combined disdain for insurance and insurance lawyers is clear from these statements. This disdain has obviously led them to choose to _not_ carry libel insurance. That is a business decision. And, if I may be so bold, a startlingly _bad_ business decision. It is clear to me that it is this decision, not the lawsuit itself that endangers Fantagraphics.

    I hope that Fantagraphics survives this, no matter the outcome. But to suggest that this danger is somehow Harlan Ellison’s fault is disingenuous at best and an outright lie at worst.

    Now, on to Sunny Jim, and both Scott D and Mr. Greenlee’s reply to him. Sunny Jim is exactly correct quoting specific CA law, as opposed to the more general article Mr. Greenlee cited earlier. And both Mr Greenlee and Scott D are correct in suggesting the whole of the law is to be considered. BUT — that is the point of lawsuits in general and this lawsuit in particular. Mr. Ellison is alleging that Fantagraphics’ use of his name _is_ in violation of that law. Mssrs. Groth and Thompson disagree. Until the courts actually decide on the merits of this specific case, everything Mr. Greenlee is asserting about CA precedent is, to a great degree, PR spin.

    But I must say, Sunny Jim has made a very interesting point about Mr Groth’s motives for including both the interview inside and Mr. Ellison’s name on the cover of the book, especially since he expresses so much disdain for the man and his contributions to the field of comic books at every opportunity, including what most people would consider a direct swipe at the man on the cover. If Mr. Groth doesn’t like Mr Ellison, why would he provide even the meager promotion of the man on his cover? I can only speculate, but for me, that speculation suggests that Groth and Co. felt using Mr. Ellison’s name would generate greater interest in their product, and thus, lead to greater sales. This implies a commercial motive, and thus, seems to remove it from the category of “public affairs”. But hell, we’re all just spitballing suppositions here, aren’t we?

  160. Scott – That’s what the court may eventually have to decide.

    Mr. Greenlee – Please cite my accusation that you misunderstood California Civil Code 3344, or amend your words. I referred, quite clearly, to the lack of correlation between what the complaint says and what you repeatedly claim it says.

    Subpara (d) wasn’t germane to the point that I was making: that you omit a critical element in your line of questioning / reasoning that intentionally skews your public presentation of the facts in order to paint the complaint differently than it actually is, so that it better serves the motives of a First Amendment argument that does not, in reality, exist.

  161. Plok,

    “Oh my God, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!”

    Help! Help! He’s trampling my First Amendment rights! If you love freedom, you’ll send me money to stop Plok from stifling my speech. And if I win, I get to keep the money!

    PS: Calling an interview in an entertainment magazine public affairs is a fairly big stretch.

  162. CJ–

    “PS: Calling an interview in an entertainment magazine public affairs is a fairly big stretch.”

    Not really. Interviews are classified as public affairs, and published as such, all the time. (Flip through almost any news magazine if you don’t believe me.)

  163. Well, Sunny Jim, when you wrote that my reading comprehension was “troubling” I did not think that was an endorsement of my ability to understand the law. Maybe my reading comprehension really is “troubling” because it now seems to me that you’re saying that- in a misguided attempt to make an argument that I dishonestly left out a relevant handful of words from the code that you yourself felt the need to leave out an entire relevant paragraph of the code? That honestly doesn’t make any sense to me. Don’t you see you’re doing exactly what you’ve accused me of doing?

    I am sure people understand that when you evaluate the merit of a suit filed under a particular statute that you do not merely look at whatever portion of the statute the suit actually quotes. No- you go back and you read the ENTIRE statute. You also do a bit of research and learn how various courts have interpreted it. This is what I have done.

    CJ wrote: “Calling an interview in an entertainment magazine public affairs is a fairly big stretch.”

    What about a 1-900 phone poll to see which member of the New Kids on the Block is sexiest? Would it be a “stretch” to call that “public affairs”? Because the Ninth Circuit held that it was indeed public affairs. And- as I mentioned before- it was also held that a documentary about surfing also fell under the category of “public affairs.” The courts, you see, have a very broad definition of public affairs.
    If surfing documentaries and 1-900 phone calls about the New Kids on the Block are “public affairs” then wouldn’t it be a “stretch” to say an interview in which a writer as well regarded as Harlan Ellison discusses the popular art form of comics was NOT public affairs?

  164. I wasn’t talking about the law, Mr. Greenlee. I was talking about the complaint. When you assert

    “1) One of the things you are suing over is Mr. Groth’s use of your name on a book which reprinted an interview of you which even you have conceded they own. ”

    you alter fundamentally, by omission, what the complaint actually says. When I quote the complaint, it’s to indicate what the complaint actually says, versus what you assert it says in seeking your answer. When I quote from the civil code, it’s to establish context for my quoting of the complaint – no more, no less.

    Your desire, it seems, is to turn a discussion about your repeated misrepresntation to the general public about the nature of this point of the complaint into an unrelated discussion of the merits of the suit.

    I merely wanted to indicate that I believe you, as an attorney, fully comprehend what the complaint says; further, you know what the omission of the context of acquiring permission does to alter the perception of the complaint as you frame it.

  165. I’m only a quarter-way down this thread, but I’d ask the self-appointed grown-ups to mind their own beeswax. This is entertaining! This is the type of thing I’d like to see more of:

    Harlan–keep your pecker up! Those idle threats to middle-aged weirdos might get Papa Hemingway to let you into his tough-guy clubhouse in the sky.

    Gary–I’m wondering what is less–the damages that your obscure vanity mag could possibly have inflicted on Harlan or the liquidation value of “The Comics Journal.”

    Shannon–congratulations on the record weekend for Too Much Coffee Man 3!

  166. Greenlee,

    So when an individual files suit against an individual, it’s a first amendment issue. When the courts decide against an individual’s right to privacy, it’s fine by you.

    Or, perhaps we can read this another way – when you’re in tight with one opposing party, they walk on water; when you have no skin in the game, who gives a crap about our rights?

    Because calling a 1-900 poll a “public affair” is an outrage. But to you, it’s just precedent that you think strengthens your position. So when Ellison wins this case, THAT will become precedent, and I assume you’ll abrogate all moral judgement there, too.

  167. harlan ellison is funny. i like that guy. i can’t wait to be a pissed off old man too. i have no idea what the lawsuit in question is about, and i’ve never read a harlan ellison book before, but i’d pay money to watch him make fun of people.

    high five for you, grumpy old man.

  168. Point the first:

    Anyone, at THIS late date, who finds Harlan Ellison’s turn of phrase, angle of approach or method of engagement to be surprising, outrageous, shocking, hurtful, uncalled-for or otherwise unbefitting the members of a civilized society is comin’ to the party a lil’ late. The man is what he is. Applaud him or toss cabbages, but don’t waste any more of anyone’s time chiding him. Never works, never has, never will — and probably never should.

    Point the second:

    Anyone who weighs in with an opinion, pro, con or pinstriped, about The Deadly Groth-Ellison Smackdown is similarly spending breath that might be put to fruitful use elsewhere. Don’t matter a fart in a windstorm, friends n’ neighbors, what you think, I think, or the Magic 8-Ball on the corner thinks. The sandbox belongs to Messrs G. and E, and all we are is kibitzers — and singularly useless ones at that.

  169. I frankly don’t understand whatever big “gotcha!” point Sunny Jim thinks he’s making. What have I misrepresented?
    Harlan Ellison REALLY is suing Gary Groth because Gary Groth put his name on the cover of a book. If he wins, this REALLY would alter the current state of first amendment law in a way that would cut back on free speech rights for everyone. A lawsuit has to be based on a law. When the law Mr. Ellison based this part of his suit on is quoted selectively by people like our friend Sunny Jim it may initially appear to support the suit. But when the law is read in its entirety- and when you look at how other courts interpret it- you see that it REALLY offers no support at all.
    Again- what have I misrepresented?

  170. ” If he wins, this REALLY would alter the current state of first amendment law in a way that would cut back on free speech rights for everyone. ”

    Says you. Many others – including at least one vigorous and unimpeachable defender of free speech, a man whose credentials dwarf your own – say otherwise. You seem as obsessed with all this as Groth is with Ellison.

    Keep on screaming in the wind. It’s fine. As Scott points out, it has no effect on the actual case. What it DOES do is make the case that Ellison’s characterization of you was dead-on accurate.

  171. Wow… I wonder if this is what the founding fathers were thinking of when they drafted the oft-quoted first amendment to the constitution. With the exception of a couple of recent appointees to the Supreme Court, I think that our justices can handle this case without our help. I can’t judge because I don’t know all the facts, but it seems like very few people here–including our honored plaintiff and defendant–do either.

    There are two high points to this whole discussion: Shannon’s mixture of pride and embarrassment at his own behavior, and Harlan’s offer to have Shannon’s baby. Just about everything else is one-sided, poorly written, self-serving trash.

    When I heard about this thread, I thought I would read through it with the awe of one watching gods at work; wordsmythery is, after all, the bread and butter of Messrs. Ellison and Groth, correct? One would think that the prose and the polemic both would be of the highest caliber. Unfortunately, I have to slog through, thinking only that my elementary school chums 30 years ago were more skilled at throwing barbs than these two.

    It is my hope of hopes that at least some of these posts are forged; if that is not the case, I would strongly recommend that Mr. Ellison and Mr. Groth retain the time of their usual editors to assist in making these casual posts approach the quality of the work they sell, lest we all begin to believe that the sold works originate elsewhere.

  172. gene phillips—

    The proof is in this sentence, which I copy from your posting of a quote by Dirk at Journalista:

    “Would those premiums be worth the money to you if you didn’t believe the insurance would even provide you with the funds necessary for the legal representation you needed during such suits?”

    Emphasis—…IF YOU DIDN’T BELIEVE…

    As Dirk has said many times at Journalista, Groth pays him. Thus, the statement attributed to Dirk could be represented by some as words directly from the mouth of Groth.

  173. CJ Babbles-
    Considering that Ellison has won every case he’s ever brought except for one that settled in his favor, what would lead you to such a ridiculous conclusion?

    Ummm- the law. He hasn’t got a case. Maybe he found a low life ready to take his case. I don’t know. You can always sue somebody. But there is no case here. Even a BAD lawyer would have to ethically advise him that the case is impossible to win. Ridiculous? Blow me.

  174. CJ I find your command of the law and logic VERY VERY funny.

    Because (you say) Ellison has won every time means he is going to win now? This is absurd. Laughable. Worthy of derision.

    More importantly, Ellison took the stand in the Forrest Ackerman case based on personal animus and testified irrelevant bull shait and golly gee whiz, his side still lost. Weird huh?

  175. Apple,

    “But there is no case here. Even a BAD lawyer would have to ethically advise him that the case is impossible to win. Ridiculous? Blow me.”

    Let’s recap. On the one side, we have a man who clearly has good legal advisors and a long history of winning in the courtroom. On the other, we have a person about whom we know two things: He don’t like Harlan Ellison, and he calls himself “Golden Apple Hater.” Only on the internets would anyone argue with a straight face that the opinions of both parties on the subject of the law carry equal weight.

    I’d rather not blow you, although I DO find ridiculous people oddly compelling…

  176. Greenlee:

    What have you misrepresented? you ask?

    This:

    I am not suing Groth because he put my name on a book.

    I am suing Groth because:

    1) He ridiculed me with a pointless and meanspirited and ACTIONABLE description of me–on the cover of his fucking book–as a “comics dilettante” precisely and intentionally to poke me with a stick.

    2) He wrote libelous comments about me in said book, which are not Free Speech or Protectable Criticism or anything other than the crap he’s been pulling on me for 28 fucking years, you dimwit.

    Here’s a question for YOU, Greenlee:

    Groth continues to assert I’m trying to muzzle his grand and oft-claimed “right to Free Speech.” You keep barking his backup on this bogus assertion. But since NOT ONCE–NOT ONE SINGLE TIME–in almost 25 YEARS has Groth reviewed even one book or story or comic or essay or column or blurb or movie or tv show written by me, during the single most fecund period of my career–NOT ONE–not a single issue of “Harlan Ellison’s DREAM CORRIDOR” that has even been reviewed (glowingly) by Publishers Weekly–or any other damned piece of work by me…

    Just WHAT burning comments from Groth is he protecting in re … well, me?

    Are we talking Free Speech and First Amendment, you silly running-dog, or are we saying SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT TO SAY ABOUT MY TALENT OR LACK OF SUCH, BUT NO MORE IDLE SLANDER, LIBEL, BULLSHIT THAT IS INTENDED TO PISS ME OFF AND MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A BAD GUY TO AMBULATORY SACKS OF PUS-FILLED RUNNY MONKEYNUTS…i name no names.

    Now go back to your mantra: “HeidiHeidiHeidi mommyMommmmeeee…I thought name-calling wasn’t allowed…boo-hoo…I dragged Ellison back in here after he swore he was gone, and now he done insulted me widdle delicate self…”

    Shit! Did I say all of that aloud?

    NEVerrrrr mind.

  177. Hey, I’ve an idea: how ’bout anyone who doesn’t even remotely approach Mr. Ellison’s intelligence just admit they’re outgunned?

    That would include myself, as well.

  178. Oh, P.S.:

    The morally-necrotic flip calling itself “Golden Apple Hater” is a bit of human flotsam who got his ass thrown OUT of Golden Apple, the excellent comics bookstore in Los Angeles.

    In the Ackerman case, “my” side neither won nor lost …

    Onaccounta …

    I HAD NO SIDE, you deciduous mountebank. I was neither Plaintiff nor Defendant. I was SUBPOENA’d to come in and give character testimony and, as I openly despise the Defendant of whom you speak, I said just what I say to his face, and what I would say at the feet of Buddha.

    Clearly, truth proffered as human speech is not your natural tongue.

    Oh, and PPS: to the dude who finds my perorations here not up to his dreams of glorious wordsmithing, well, toots, pay me what I get for glorious wordsmithing, instead of your mooching it here for free–you can’t really getcher money back on the price of admission, you freeloading internet rambler–cause you dint pay nothin ta GET IN!

    Charmingly, and still capable of pulling the auctorial plow,

    I remain, Yr. Pal, Harlan

  179. Can anyone with a legal background weigh in on the documents available on the Fantagraphics website? I looked at them last night and I found Ellison’s initial filing to be surprising, and even more so once I read Fantagraphics’ motion for dismissal and Ellison’s response to said motion.
    This was due to my initial impression that it read like it was written by a 15 year old boy on a message board, and my secondary impression when contrasting the first document against the others which are rife with legalese, citations, and legal arguments. The initial filing reads like someone bellyaching to high heaven and little else. (And before anyone jumps down my throat with accusations of anti-Ellison feelings, or tells me to go re-read Deathbird Stories, I recommend that they look at the initial filing and judge the accuracy of my characterisation.)

    Basically, my question for those with a legal background: how typical is Ellison’s initial filing? Is this what statements of suit look like, with argument later put forth in subsequent documents and in court? Is my impression of its juvenile and strange tone correct?

    Disclosure: on this matter, I agree with the Fantagraphics POV, which may be influencing my reading of the documents. That said, it is increasingly pathetic to see a 40(50?)-something year old man baiting a 70-something and that 70-something year old man rising to the bait. I know that the industry line on both Groth and Ellison is that they’re incorrigible infant terribles, and gosh isn’t that just great when they’re funny and awful when they’re irritating, but as I get older I only find this stuff more boring, and even a little sad, especially as one reflects that the actions and statements leading up to this case inadvertently demonstrate the weaknesses not only of both men’s characters, but also their bodies of work.

    I must say that I find it mystifying why this, of all possible fights, is the one Ellison would pick. One of the stranger turns in this matter is the almost complete reversal of influence since the initial interview in 80, with Ellison’s having waned significantly, and Groth’s at a highpoint.

    This is *not* a judgment on Ellison’s work. The fact of the matter is that of his much vaunted 60(?)+ books, only about 5 are in print. Nor is this a judgment about Groth’s written work. As a writer, Groth is nearly a non-entity. Considered as a publisher, it’s undeniable that right now Fantagraphics is at an all time high of prestige and success. In part this is due to some smart moves by Fantagraphics, but it’s also related to the changing market. So even here, it’s as much luck as anything else. Whatever. None of the reasons really matter.

    The situation, as I see it, is that a writer of fading renown has opted to sue the foremost publisher of comics. It’s just a total PR disaster and literally for nothing. What’s the best case scenario if Ellison wins his suit? Groth pays out the nose and the books are pulped? Fantagraphics goes under? Maybe in another era that would have been a “good” outcome, but I assure every one of you that the reaction to this case thus far will be nothing compared to the response if said scenario occurs.

    For better or worse, we live in the age of the Internet, and if there is one thing the Internet abhors, it is actions leading to what its users perceive as censorship. While it’s totally debatable whether or not an Ellison victory in this case represents censorship (for the record: I don’t think it would), one can be almost certain that this is how such a scenario will be perceived by the general internet community.

    So, seriously, what is the point of this case? It’s only going to make things worse for Ellison. In fact, it demonstrably has: I never would have read a goofy Fantagraphics history of itself, if for no other reason than to avoid Groth’s smarm, and thus would not have read or heard about his digs at Ellison. My life would have been better for it. But now I know exactly the statements Ellison found objectionable, and I know them because Ellison publicized them to a degree previously impossible. Seriously, man, who wants to hear Fantagraphics talk about itself?

    I suspect that I am in the same boat as many, many, many others.

  180. I am beginning to figure out why Harlan Ellison doesn’t know this is a first amendment case- it is because he actually knows very little indeed about his own suit. For one thing, his comment above suggests that the alleged libelous comments appeared in the same book that had Mr. Ellison’s name on the cover. In fact, this case involves two separate books. I am genuinely shocked that Mr. Ellison does not understand such a basic fact about his own case.

    It is also surprising indeed that Mr. Ellison is apparently so unfamiliar with the contents of the lawsuit that he doesn’t even realize what he’s suing for. Whether or not someone is a dilettante is, of course, subjective; in other words, there is no objective standard by which everyone can agree whether or not a particular person is a dilettante. Reasonable people could disagree. Therefore, whether or not a person is a dilettante is an opinion and the expression of that opinion is non actionable under the first amendment.

    If Mr. Ellison will read- perhaps for the first time?- the documents his lawyers have filed in this case he will learn- perhaps for the first time?- that he is suing because he believes that by using his name on the cover of a book Fantagraphics misappropriated the trademark that is his name which he feels is wrong because he believes he has the the substantive right to exclusively profit from the use of his name and likeness for use on or in products.

    That is what you are suing over, sir.

    And let’s not forget that the alleged defamatory comments that have bothered you so much are virtually identical to comments which appear in an article that you have allowed to be republished on harlanellison.com If those comments are so harmful to you, why on earth did you put them on your own website? That makes no sense to me.

    I don’t know why you want me to discuss with you the editorial policy of the Comics Journal- which is something I have never had anything to do with. I will, however, point out that when you say “NOT ONCE–NOT ONE SINGLE TIME–in almost 25 YEARS has Groth reviewed even one book or story or comic or essay or column or blurb or movie or tv show written by me” you are telling a demonstrable untruth (which, in the interests of accuracy, I am sure you will apologize). Just off the top of my head I can recall that Gary Groth wrote a very memorable review on an essay about comics which you wrote for Playboy. There may have been other reviews in the Journal of your work as well but this example is obviously enough to prove the falsity of your “NOT ONCE- NOT ONE SINGLE TIME” claim.

    I actually have no problem with you calling me names. My complaint was that what seemed to me to be Heidi’s selective enforcement of that policy created an uneven playing field in which people who said things about you had to observe Marquis of Queensbury rules while you were permitted to do and say whatever you wanted. If you want to level the playing field so that we each may have the right to say exactly what we think in whatever language we felt was most appropriate, i would be glad to do it- if you thought you could take it.

  181. In case it’s not obvious, the number of reviews TCJ has or has not run of Harlan Ellison’s work is in every way irrelevant to the substance of the lawsuit. I bothered to correct Mr. Ellison only because I thought it might be pertinent to further highlight the shaky grasp he has on the facts of his relationship with Mr. Groth.

  182. Anonymous made some good points, especially

    “So, seriously, what is the point of this case? It’s only going to make things worse for Ellison.”

    Harlan Ellison isn’t going to be taking advice from me but if he were I’d suggest he try to offer up some reasonable compromise to settle this case. If he came up with something both parties could live with, this case would go away, people like me would stop complaining about him, and he could get back to his happy life with his wife, friends and fans.

  183. HARLAN! I said no name calling! While I admit that “deciduous mountebank” is much funnier than some of the Bevis and Butthead stuff that has been posted in this thread, it has outlived its usefulness, and I now must, regretfully, close the thread.

    Oh, and PS: Anonymous, I think you had the best post of all.