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1. $2000 statue and more stolen at New York Comic Con

extralarge $2000 statue and more stolen at New York Comic Con

While the harassment problems seems to have been put under control, by and large, there are a rather alarming number of reports of theft from the show, including this one, about a hand painted “Dunny” statue worth $2000 being stolen from a booth. The culprit was caught on tape taking the items at 7:25 after the show closed and fled on foot.

Nick Curtis, an associate editor at the magazine, said the 20-inch, high-priced action figure had been hand-painted by artist Jon-Paul Kaiser during the event.

“What had been done is that an artist did a live painting of it during Comic Con, making it essentially a one-of-a-kind piece of art on a 3-D canvas,” he said.

The bunny-like figurines are typically 3-inches tall, mass-produced and retail for $15, Curtis said.

The thief also stole a Popaganda “TDY” figure worth $80 and a Goodley Toy action figure worth $100, police said.

I also saw tweets indicating that writer Amy Chu’s laptop was stolen, and there’s a report of an artist having some pages stolen as well.

Thievery doesn’t invite the same kind of “they were asking for it” response as other kinds of claims, but unfortunately, these incidents are a reminder that leaving valuable things lying around is not a good idea at a crowded con. It’s also a sad comment on an otherwise peaceful crowd.

I know of one creator who had his laptop stolen right off his table at a foreign show. (I also know of several people who had wallets stolen at comic book after partys over the years—enough so that I’d rather stand around with 20lbs of equipment on my shoulder than leave them unattended.) While these kind of thefts are not uncommon everywhere, there do seem to have been several at this year’s NYCC.

Anyway, keep an eye on valuables!

4 Comments on $2000 statue and more stolen at New York Comic Con, last added: 10/19/2014
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2. Supreme Court Spikes Shuster Case

As expected, the Supreme Court has denied cert in the case of Joe Shuster heir Mark Peary.

peary court order001 300x62 Supreme Court Spikes Shuster Case

I’ve noted elsewhere that, contrary to what the rest of the entertainment press asserts, the filing of amicus briefs in support of a petition is not a sign of case momentum, and the outcome of the Shuster case illustrates why it’s important to understand this.

As for Justice Roberts’ recusal, it’s worth noting that he has done this before with cases involving a Warner Bros. subsidiary, such as Ching v. Warner Bros. Studio Facilities Inc. and Tenenbaum v. Sony BMG Music Entertainment Inc., et al. This is typically a sign of an investment.

2 Comments on Supreme Court Spikes Shuster Case, last added: 10/6/2014
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3. Jack Kirby and Marvel Settle: what we know, what we don’t

jack kirby alex ross Jack Kirby and Marvel Settle: what we know, what we dont

Tribute to the King by Alex Ross.

Friday’s announcement of a settlement between Jack Kirby’s heirs and Marvel seems like good news—but is it? And what does it mean?

I’m told Jeff Trexler, whose identification of the “instance and expense” aspect of the lawsuit may have helped get that into the petition to the Supremes, is writing his summary for TCJ.com, so while we all eagerly await that, here’s a little of the known knowns and known unknowns:

First off, Mark Evanier, a Kirby family confidant, a witness at various Kirby-related trials and filier of an amicus curiae brief is certainly in a position to know more of the Kirby position and this is all he had to say on the matter:

It was announced this morning that the family of Jack Kirby has settled with Marvel Comics (i.e., Disney) ending a very long dispute. The Supreme Court was only days from considering whether to take on the case and obviously, the timing of this settlement has much to do with both sides’ concern with what would get decided there.

If you’re coming to this page in search of details and commentary, you’ve come to the wrong place. I will be saying nothing about it other that I am real, real happy. And I’m sure Jack and his wife Roz, if they’re watching this from wherever they are, are real, real,real happy.

That’s either great fronting or a pretty solid indication that the Kirbys got what they were looking for. Since Evanier was intimately involved in the case, it’s probably legally all he can say. But if Mark thinks Jack is smiling, I’m smiling.

You can read all the petitions and briefs here. And you can bet a lot of people will be poring over these for a lot of reasons.

Charles Hatfield has a good round up of the ins and outs of the case itself, the many friend of the court briefs, and how the case grew in importance as more Hollywood vested interest signed on.

However, news of the cert petition reignited publicity over the case, and in May SCOTUS discussed the case in conference, after which the Court requested a response from Marvel. Then, in June, things started to happen: several important amici curiae briefs supporting the Kirbys’ petition brought high-profile attention to the case. One of these was filed on behalf of Kirby biographer Mark Evanier, Jack Kirby Collector publisher and editor John Morrow, and the PEN Center USA (a nonprofit representing diverse writers).

In addition, the California Society of Entertainment Lawyers filed a brief. Another brief that became very important for the press coverage of the  case was submitted by Bruce Lehman, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and an authority on intellectual property law. Lehman filed in collaboration with former US register of copyrights Ralph Oman, the Artists Rights Society, and the International Intellectual Property Institute; they were joined by the American Society of Illustrators, the National Cartoonists Society, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, and other organizations representing arts professionals—as well as scores of cartoonists and illustrators who also signed on.

Kurt Busiek has been debunking some common myths about the case in the Beat’s own comments, but perhaps because Beat commenters are just smarter or less pig-headed than the average commenter, he saved his masterpiece in the genre for this CBR thread where he debunks from all times that the Kirby heirs were just greedy and opportunistic. (Link via Tom Spurgeon) He also speculates about the outcome, just like Iim gonna do in a few paragraphs:

Based on that, it sure doesn’t look like Marvel’s throwing the Kirbys a few bucks to go away. If that’s what they wanted to do, they could have done that any time within the last few years. Whoever blinked, it was the side that had the most to lose if the case went to the Supreme Court and risked a ruling they didn’t like.

That wasn’t the Kirbys — they were already getting nothing, so the Supreme Court deciding against them wouldn’t hurt them any.

But Disney/Marvel has billions on the line. They don’t want to risk losing that. Not even with a pro-business Supreme Court likely to rule for them. Because they’re not sure the Court would rule for them. Not with a bunch of people on the other side who make IP contracts their life — including one of the guys who helped write the 1978 Copyright Law. If that guy is saying, “No, no, it doesn’t work that way,” there’s too much of a chance that the Court will listen.

So my prediction is: All the public changes you see coming out of this are going to be favorable to the Kirbys. Probably the first thing you see will be creator credits. And the family’s going to suddenly be financially secure, like their father/grandfather wanted them to be.

What the “greedy heirs” morons don’t get is that this was a case with very important principles set off by the Copyright Law of 1976 regarding what is work for hire. As Kevin Melrose reports of a Law.com article, many issues remains undecided by the settlement, and it’s entirely possible that these will crop up again and the Supreme Court may yet hear such a case:

The Kirby heirs insisted the artist was an independent contractor who worked from home, provided his own supplies and received no benefits. However, he Second Circuit, using its frequently criticized “instance and expense” test, found that because Marvel assigned and approved projects and paid a page rate, Kirby’s contributions were indeed “for hire.”

The Kirbys took aim at the Second Circuit’s definition of work for hire in their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, which drew support from the likes of Hollywood guilds and a former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, demonstrating the potentially far-reaching ramifications of the dispute. However, the 11th-hour settlement announcement arrived just ahead of a Supreme Court conference on Monday to determine whether to review the case — meaning the Second Circuit’s finding stands.

So the gray area surrounding work for hire before 1978 remains, although experts say given that 56-year window — or 35 years for copyrights transferred after 1979 — it’s only a matter time before another case, more likely to involve a musician/songwriter than a comics artist, makes its way to the Supreme Court, requiring the justices to weigh in.

As Kirby family attorney Marc Toberoff told Law.com, “At some point there will be another case like this.”

 

While it seems unlikely from the outside that SCOTUS would ever have sided with the Kirby heirs, Marvel didn’t know, and a happy smiling settlement was vastly to everyone’s benefit.  And more to the point, there’s no such thing as secret in entertainment any more. As Joshua Riviera writes for EW:

One of the great things about modern pop culture isn’t just the wealth of content available, but the interest it has spurred in the creators behind it. Showrunners, once an invisible position in the broadcast era, are now at the forefront of fans’ minds when obsessing over TV. Similarly, the public perception of filmmakers has slowly evolved from the days of the monolithic studio system to accommodate directors and screenwriters and cinematographers and composers and VFX teams and crew. Comics have come a long way from the 60s, which saw Jack Kirby slowly become frustrated with the business that grew and endures to this day thanks in large part to his labors—now many comics are sold based on the strength of the people making them. But the way comics creators are credited in other media based on their work is often lacking.

Yet, things have changed a lot from the days when Marv Wolfman was barred credits of Blade, setting off a lawsuit he eventually lost and the current spate of copyright battles. Nowadays, one imagines, Marv would be saluted at the Hall H panel and trotted around to talk shows. While it’s pretty clear that you need to lawyer up to get your share of whatever pie — mini or maxi — may exist, Marvel/Disney has become more sensitive to the bad publicity of the starving creator railing against the corporation as he rolls around in his ratty sleeping bag from his stately cardboard box on the street.

And now some speculation from me. Given the fair-enough-to-shut-them-up treatment of Jim Starlin and the family of Bill Mantlo  over Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney and Marvel seem to be on a better path now. You can attribute that to the bad optics of the cardboard box creator, but I’m pretty sure most of the top brass at Marvel proper, including Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada and Axel Alonso, would wish to see creators fairly treated if it were within their powers. (The same was undoubtedly true of Paul Levitz and Jenette Kahn at DC.)

Given the huge, vocal and unending respect for the work of Jack Kirby by just about every creative type involved with all these “comic book movies,” I share the Busiek viewpoint that we’ll see more public inclusion of Kirby among the “Marvel founders.” Kirby always got acknowledgement in the credits of Marvel movies, but we could see more “created by” credits. Kirby could be inducted into the “Disney Legends” hall of fame type deal. Disney doesn’t do a ton to promote its actual creative people, but I’d expect to see Kirby enshrined as much as possible.

And now, here is my Torsten-like fantasy to end this. Maybe someday at Disneyland, as the Marvel character rides and characters and churros swirl, there could be a statue of Stan and Jack as they create the Marvel Universe as we first knew it. I’m not sure Jack would have really liked that, but the victors write history, and I’m pretty sure that Jack Kirby is a victor now.

seven things at disneyland that make d23s studio tour even more cool feat 1.1 Jack Kirby and Marvel Settle: what we know, what we dont

9 Comments on Jack Kirby and Marvel Settle: what we know, what we don’t, last added: 10/4/2014
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4. Marvel and Jack Kirby estate settle their disputes

CapBicentennialBattlesBackCover en 640h1 Marvel and Jack Kirby estate settle their disputes

A joint statement has just been released by Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby indicating that a settlement of somekind hs been made:

“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.” 

 

HOLY CRAP.

The Kirby Estate had been suing Marvel for right to the characters Kirby created over the years, from Captain America in the 40s to the Fantastic Four in the 60s. Although every court case went against the Kirby family, recently it seemed that the case might actually go to the Supreme Court, and it may have been the unpredictable nature of the claims that led to this settlement.

While an initial wave of joy over the end of this battle is the natural emotion, one hopes that the Kirby family got something out of this and it wasn’t just keeping up appearances in the light of an ongoing battle that didn’t look like it would end favorably.

 

18 Comments on Marvel and Jack Kirby estate settle their disputes, last added: 9/26/2014
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5. Breaking: SDCC cosplayer was injured as the result of a fall not an assault

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The San Diego Unified Port District Harbor Police have issued a second and final press release in regards to the case of the injured cosplayer at Comic-Con, and it has been ascertained that her injuries were most likely sustained as the result of a fall, not an assault.

BACKGROUND:
Shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, 2014, a juvenile female was found with significant injuries in the pool area of a hotel at 333 West Harbor Drive in San Diego. The juvenile female had attended Comic Con earlier in the day and still had her costume on. She was transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

In connection with the case, Harbor Police arrested a 29-year-old man early Sunday morning, July 27 at the hotel. He was booked into San Diego County Jail at 11:20 a.m. on charges of sexual contact with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The Harbor Police Investigations Unit has been investigating the incident, including the cause of the injuries to the victim.

INVESTIGATION RESULTS:
After the incident, Police began a thorough investigation of the facts, including a review of footage from multiple surveillance cameras, as well as the assistance of community members and Comic Con attendees who provided extensive information and sent photographs for review. The investigation concluded with a finding that the juvenile female’s injuries were not the result of a criminal assault, and were likely the result of a fall. Her injuries, and physical evidence at the scene, were consistent with a fall from the distance of approximately six feet.

This finding does not affect the charges against the 29-year-old male, which will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office. Because this case involves a minor, no further information will be released about this incident.


While the number of accidents that occurred at the con should not be downplayed, the true facts of the case are not nearly as dire as suspected.
While our heartfelt wishes for her recovery are in no way changed, I can’t help but think that a wave of relief has flooded over the Comic-Con community. It’s also notable that 1 am Saturday is a busy time at the con, and that a lot of people must have seen what happened and helped police put together an accurate report.

Once again, all good thoughts to the injured girl and her family.

14 Comments on Breaking: SDCC cosplayer was injured as the result of a fall not an assault, last added: 8/2/2014
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6. Update on the injured cosplayer

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I’m sure everyone has now read up on the details of the arrest regarding the 17-year-old cosplayed who was found injured and was presumably attacked at Comic-Con on Saturday night. The man who was arrested was 29-year-old Justin Kailor, a photographer associated with something called Project Cosplay. Kailor was friends with the victim, and indeed many photos of her are watermarked with Project Cosplay so she clearly had an ongoing relationship with the project. According to Kailor, the two went to the show together and argued at the Marriott about whether to leave or not, and he became worried when she left. About an hour later she was found bloody and unconscious at the pool or the Marina Marriott.

“I just wanted to call it a night and take her home to her parents and be on my way…,” he said. “She ran off and I didn’t follow. She didn’t answer the phone. She was gone for so long I asked security if they had seen her.”

About an hour later, he said, security found the girl unconscious and bloodied in the hotel’s pool area. He added he was with security when they heard she had been discovered and police were notified. The hotel manager did not return calls seeking comment.


THe girl’s family was interviewed by local news, and confirmed that the victim would have a long recovery, but the support of the cosplay community was much appreciated. Police haven’t commented on whether Kailor is involved in the assault on the victim; his arrest was in connection with giving her alcohol and unspecified “sexual contact” with a minor.

The investigation is still ongoing; anyone who has any information should contact sdhpiwatch@portofsandiego.org.

A few personal comments: it’s hard to imagine an idea more disturbing than a bloody, severely injured teen-aged cosplayed being found by a pool at the Marriott Marquis, possibly sexually assaulted, in the middle of Saturday night at Comic-Con. I’ve been by that pool, you’ve been by that pool. I took a shortcut through that pool nearly every day at the con. I stayed at the Marriott on Tuesday night, I’ve been there with groups, I’ve been there alone and so have you.

There is a great deal we do not know about this case, and I’m not going to speculate on what happened. But based on what we do know, there is nothing shocking, unusual or dangerous about the behavior of the victim. She did what hundreds and thousands of people have done at Comic-Con for years—dressed up, hung out with friends and moved around a place she assumed was safe.

What is shocking, unusual and dangerous is the behavior of whoever left her lying bloody by the pool.

I’m turning off comments here, but if anyone has any RELEVANT information regarding this, such as benefits, cosplay group response, or knowledgable insights, email me at comicsbeat @gmail.com. This is obviously a tragedy, and will contribute to a lot of the ongoing discussion about cosplay, consent and conventions.

Please continue to think good thoughts for this young woman and her family.

3 Comments on Update on the injured cosplayer, last added: 8/4/2014
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7. San Diego police seek information in vicious beating of cosplayer

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With Comic-Con winding up there has been a smattering of word on Tumblr and Reddit about a young female cosplayer dressed as Rgoer Rabbit being attacked and left bleeding by the side of the road. The story has been reported on Tumblr and Reddit, and after speaking with the girl’s parents, I have ascertained that it is unfortunately true. The SDPD is currently investigating the crime. I have removed the names from this, but if you have any more information, please do not contact the family directly. Call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000. I repeat, DO NOT CALL THE FAMILY. Several people have already spoken with them and with their daughter in the hospital they do not need any more distress fielding phone calls.

According to the girl’s mother, her injuries are severe, and indicate a vicious beating. Here is the account of what occurred from Tumblr:

IF YOU WENT TO SAN DIEGO COMIC CON OR KNOW ANYONE WHO HAS, PLEASE READ.

One of my dearest friends was found on the side of the road, unconscious and bloody. She was wearing this cosplay on the day it happened. She was last seen with friends when she ran off after a disagreement. Please, please, please, if you have ANY information or saw her anywhere, contact her mother. The full information is down below. This isn’t okay and it’s sickening to know that this happened at a place people truly can enjoy themselves. Please spread the word.

 ”I just received a call from the San Diego Police Department and my daughter REDACTED aka REDACTED was found on the side of the road covered in blood with no ID unconscious. They are unsure what happened to her. My husband is on his way to the police station and then the hospital. If you have any information on what happened to her please send me a facebook message or call me at REDACTED. Thank you in advance”. -REDACTED

Obviously this crime is going to be added to the current discussion of all the issues regarding Comic-Con, harassment, cosplay, crowds and more. It’s a stark and heartbreaking reminder that even if Comic-Con is a wonderful fantasy world brought to life, there are real life predators out there. Have fun but play safe and sane. My heart goes out to this girl, who was an experienced cosplayed who had recently been to Anime Expo, and her family. Her mother says it was her dream to go to Comic-Con. Let’s hope that her attackers are caught and when she’s recovered she can come back in style as a heroine.

16 Comments on San Diego police seek information in vicious beating of cosplayer, last added: 7/29/2014
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8. SDCC ’14: Fashioning a Response to Cosplay Harassment

cosplay-not-consentComic-Con hit TMZ after America’s Next Top Model winner and media personality Adrianne Curry, dressed as Catwoman, chased down and whip-punched a man who thrust his hands down the tights of another model dressed as Tigra. As horrible as Sunday’s attack was, could this incident help us deal with such harassment more effectively?

Curry’s superheroic response to the sexual attack on her friend Alicia Marie underscores the importance of taking sexual harassment at comic conventions seriously. Comic conventions have experienced exponential growth in recent years, filling not only convention venues but downtown city streets into volatile vectors for sexually inappropriate behavior. And contrary to the stereotype-ridden TMZ video, dorky fanboys are not necessarily the only culprits – downtown San Diego has become a five-day Festival, with the Red Hour striking anew each time you walk out the Convention Center doors.

How to deal with the problem of harassment within and without Comic-Con was attracting the attention of multiple media outlets even before the attack on Alicia Marie — in fact, after I scheduled this post for publication on The Beat, even Perez Hilton found the Adrianne Curry incident to be a source of moral outrage. Over the next couple posts I want to add a legal perspective, since this happens to be an area in which I have clocked a few villains of my own, albeit with words instead of a whip.

Before we do, however, I want to address a thought that may have popped into the minds of some readers, namely, the notion that women such as Currie and Alicia Marie are themselves somehow asking for it. I actually witnessed a vivid expression of this mindset when a cosplaying woman outside the Con tried to fend off a guy’s come-on by handing him a business card and promoting her own work. The guy responded by  contending that there was no other way for a man to take the way she dressed than as a sign that she was looking to get laid.

This exchange stood in stark contrast to the professional discussion I’d just had with a longtime of the annual Comic-Con Masquerade, the amazing Broadway actress and theme-park entertainment designer Diane Duncan. Last Friday when we were walking through the convention chatting about cosplay she stopped to point out what she thought was a standout example of excellent craft, a woman dressed as Poison Ivy whose costume exhibited a number of characteristics that would have done well for her had she worn it for the Masquerade competition instead. The costume had a sensual vibe, yes, but that was an extension of the workmanship — whether the cosplayer’s aim in such artful attention to detail was self-expression, marketing a product, promoting her own business or a combination of all three, baiting men for sex was not the point.

As it turns out, the cosplayer was none other than Adrianne Curry, and as I read up on her and other models who cosplay I found myself in rather familiar territory. In advising on ethics and other legal matters in the fashion industry, it’s all too common to run across men who view what women wear as a sign of sexual availability, as opposed to a form of stylized expression that for many women in modeling, marketing, retail and design is an integral part of their professional identity.

The intrinsic connection between cosplay and fashion got me thinking about another connection they share: namely, unfortunate loopholes in current sexual harassment law. Although we often use the phrase “sexual harassment” when speaking of unwanted advances to cosplayers and fashion models alike, from a legal perspective the term typically refers to sexually inappropriate behavior in certain employment contexts. For example, because models are typically independent contractors, not employees, they are often not protected by sexual harassment laws, and a similar principle applies to comic convention cosplayers who are not there in the course of employment — regardless of how egregiously inappropriate the behavior may be, it technically is not a violation of sexual harassment law, nor would it fall under the purview of a typical harassment policy.

Within the fashion industry, this lacuna is being addressed primarily in two ways: through legal reform and private action. New York, for example, recently enacted a law that extends the protections in child labor laws to underage models, and efforts are ongoing to give volunteers and independent contractors new legal protections when sexually harassed. At the same time, the campaign against harassment within the industry is giving rise to new standards and practices that go beyond the limits of sexual harassment law while taking advantage of more general protections that other laws already provide.

We’re seeing a similar strategy evolve among cosplayers in regard to private action, most prominently in the work of Geeks for Consent, whose signs could be found throughout the convention center this year. I was glad to meet the group’s intrepid director, Rochelle Keyhan, briefly during Comic-Con, and have considerable regard for its efforts to call attention to this important issue. However, it’s also clear that a sharp divide persists between those calling for a more rigorous sexual harassment policy and Comic-Con itself, which has taken the position that a sufficient policy already exists. Awareness, as they say, has been raised, but the ideal provisions of a convention harassment policy remain a matter of dispute.

In my next post, we’ll take a deeper look at the Geeks for Consent campaign, the Adrianne Curry incident and existing law to see whether we can devise a new policy that will address the concerns of all sides in the ongoing debate. Meanwhile, if you have any opinions or experiences pertinent to this important discussion, please feel to leave them in the comments thread or shoot me an email at jeff.trexler@gmail.com.

7 Comments on SDCC ’14: Fashioning a Response to Cosplay Harassment, last added: 8/2/2014
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9. DC Entertainment is alright! Toronto statue of abused child will get Superman’s S after all

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Looks like more compassionate—not to mention media-savvy—heads have prevails at DC Entertainment, as they have reversed a lawyer’s decision to disallow a memorial to a boy who died of abuse to have the iconic Kryptonian S on it after all:

“DC Entertainment uses a flexible set of criteria when we receive worthy requests such as this, and at times have reconsidered our initial stance,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“After verifying the support of appropriate family members, DC Entertainment will be allowing the Jeffrey Baldwin Memorial Statue to feature the Superman ‘S’ shield.”

The kerfuffle began earlier in the week, when a Toronto man revealed that he had commissioned a memorial statue to Jeffrey Baldwin, a young boy who died of starvation nearly a decade ago. In Baldwin’s brief life, he loved Superman, and the statue paid tribute to that.

A DC lawyer didn’t agree at the time, igniting a public debate over copyright, trademark and everything in between.

Our own Jeff Trexler weighed in with sound legal principles earlier today, but as many have stated, all DC had to do to get past any legal issues was license the statue for $1 — US or Canadian.

It looks like saner heads have prevailed and realized that assigning the heroic humanist values of Superman to this child’s tragic life and horrific death will help others aspire to more heroic ideals.

9 Comments on DC Entertainment is alright! Toronto statue of abused child will get Superman’s S after all, last added: 7/10/2014
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10. Heeeeee’s Baaaaack! Convicted child molester Ed Kramer is now a Twitter guru “living in Brooklyn”

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We’re sure you recall the saga of Georgia man Ed Kramer, the co-founder of Dragon*Con, who last December was finally consisted of child molestation after 10 years of legal wrangling. The plea bargained verdict pleased few, as jailhouse lawyer Kramer used his physical infirmities to get house arrest instead of the jail time he so richly deserved following years of accusations of improper relationships with young boys. Perhaps frustrated, the DA vowed:

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“I believe he’ll violate his probation and we’ll have him in prison eventually,” said Porter, who has been on the Kramer case since 2005. “I think he’ll most likely try and figure out a way to come in contact with children, and that’s where I’ll get him.”


Well, I don’t know if Twitter counts as contact but if so, Kramer could be on his way. He’s reappeared on Twitter as @edwardekramer, now billed as

Edward E. Kramer is an American Editor, Writer, Producer, Screenwriter, Agent, SFWA, WGA. Photographer and Photojournalist.


AND CONVICTED CHILD MOLESTER. Fixed it for ya.

For his profile pic, Kramer has managed to comb his hair and beard so he looks less like the star of Furry Human Centipede, and more like the kind of person who won’t make you throw up in your mouth when you look at him a responsible member of society. But it doesn’t stop there. On his twitter profile, Kramer claims to be located in Brooklyn, NY, which WOULD be a clear violation of house arrest if I’m not mistaken. A search at his website also reveals a stunning new bio:

An award-winning editor and writer, Edward E. Kramer’s published works includes Sandmanwith Neil Gaiman, Elric with Michael Moorcock, and The Crow with James O’Barr; he received the Prometheus Award for the Libertarian SF anthology Free Space, with Brad Linaweaver. Ed agented volumes of classic work for Harlan Ellison (Edgeworks), Fritz Leiber (Lankhmar), and Michael Moorcock (Eternal Champion). Ed arranged the literary partnership between authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson which re-launched the Dune universe; the first Herbert / Anderson collaborative trilogy was dedicated to Ed’s efforts.
 
As a photojournalist and music critic, Ed’s features were syndicated through the NY Times regional wire; his photography and portraits graced the pages of Billboard, Rolling Stone, Time, and USA Today. Ed’s original fiction appears in numerous anthologies, collections, and magazines. In 1987, Ed founded America’s largest annual pop-cultural event, Dragon Con, and served as Chairman for fourteen years. An active member of the Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA) for more than two decades, and a past Nebula Awards host, Ed also served as Vice-President and Trustee of the Horror Writers Association (HWA).
 
A graduate of Emory University School of Medicine, Ed’s work in Violence Epidemiology with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) helped develop the technology to decrease fatalities through a pilot study for Atlanta’s Domestic Crisis Intervention Unit (DCIU). His experience includes more than two decades of work as an administrator in the psychiatric and addiction treatment professions, and eight years as Producer of the Tovia Singer Show for Arutz Sheva, Israel’s only independent national live radio station. 


As if writing Sandman, Elric and The Crow wasn’t enough—what did we EVER do without him?—Kramer’s twitter feed appears to be setting himself up as some kind of psychological counselor, as his interests and activities reveal:

Futurism and Emerging Technologies, Editing and Publishing, Writing and Screenwriting, Forensic Psychology and Cognitive Processing, Photography and Cinematography, Disability and Human Rights Advocacy, Chabad Lubavitch and Spiritual Enrichment, Lurianic and Quantum Studies, Kiruv and Counter-Missionary Education


IF you want to add “having sex with underage minors” to that list, I won’t blame you.

And here’s the most disturbing kicker of all. I’d actually heard about this from several friends, and then saw an alert on FB, but Kramer is especially targeting mothers of disabled children on Twitter. He’s also followed several children’s aid organization, including Sanctuary for Kids. If you think he’s doing this to find weak people to victimize, under the guise of helping the children, well, that’s how molesters operate.

Will all this be enough to get Kramer’s probation violated? I sincerely hope so. One of the reasons monsters like Kramer find new victims is their insidious and ingenious ways of manipulating the very rules meant to prevent such behavior.

To be fair, some of Kramer’s tweeted links are pretty interesting. But just in case any moms or dads out there are googling, I’ll spell it out for ya:

@edwardekramer is a convicted child molester.

Got it? Good! If @edwardekramer is following you on twitter, get to a safe place immediately.

15 Comments on Heeeeee’s Baaaaack! Convicted child molester Ed Kramer is now a Twitter guru “living in Brooklyn”, last added: 7/9/2014
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11. DC won’t permit Superman logo on statue of murdered boy

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This may make you cry.

Jeffrey Baldwin is a Toronto child who died of starvation in 2002 after severe abuse at the hands of his grandparents. The grandparents were convicted child abusers but Jeffrey and several siblings were still handed into their care by a children’s “aid” organization. He and a sister were locked in a room and forced to live in their own filth. And worse. In happier days, the boy was a Superman fan who was even photographed wearing the classic uniform.

A Toronto man was so moved by this story—revealed in a long delayed inquest into the death earlier this year—that he comissioned a statue of Jeffrey wearing a Superman uniform.

However, when he asked for permission from DC to include the Superman logo, it was denied.

DC’s senior vice-president of business and legal affairs, Amy Genkins, told Boyce in an email that “for a variety of legal reasons, we are not able to accede to the request, nor many other incredibly worthy projects that come to our attention.”
DC did not immediately return a request for comment.

For Boyce, it was a huge blow, as he felt the Superman aspect was a crucial part of the bronze monument, which will include a bench. The coroner’s inquest heard from Jeffrey’s father that his son loved to dress up as Superman.

 

Okay I get it. Legal reasons. It’s still kind of sad.

“I’m sort of empathetic to (DC’s) point of view on this, but I feel very strongly that the image of Jeffrey is so powerful,” said Boyce. “It’s the image of a vulnerable boy dressed up as the most invulnerable character in the universe. So I just feel like there’s something lost if we change it.”

Boyce said he was empathetic to DC’s stance because he felt they did not want the Superman character associated with child abuse.


I get that too. But still sad. Superheroes are aspirational character who help get kids through trauma as larger than life figures with larger than life heroism.

Boyce is going to have the “S” on the statue changed to a “J” for Jeffrey.

15 Comments on DC won’t permit Superman logo on statue of murdered boy, last added: 7/8/2014
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12. ‘Clarence’ creator Skylar Page removed over sexual assault and mental issues

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The close-knit LA animation community has been rocked this week by trouble at Cartoon Network’s show Clarence, where creator and show runner Skyler Page has been removed from his duties following an assault on an Adventure Time staffer and what friends are calling a mental breakdown.

The public uproar began earlier in the week when Adventure Time storyboard revisionist Emily Partridge posted some oblique tweets about mental illness not excusing bad behavior. Then illustrator Maré Odomo posted this on Monday:


This created a lot of hubbub. Soon after, Partridge confirmed that she was the victim:


This was supported by many others in the industry, including Adventure Time’s Pendleton Ward, Ryan Pequin, and Steven Universe (and cartoonist) Lamar Abrams who wrote:


As this escalated on Twitter, Partridge confirmed that Cartoon Network was aware of the situation and was dealing with it. Matters became far more public yesterday when Cartoon Brew wrote a story that confirmed that Page had been removed as showrunner from Clarence. While his behavior against Partridge was the last straw, it seems that he had been acting very erratically due to mental health issues for a long time, with reports he had been hospitalized earlier in the year for the same issues. A friend of his named Jeff Rowe has written much more about Page’s mental state:

Skyler is currently in the hospital receiving treatment for mental illness. Specifically a form of Bipolar 1 that results in prolonged psychotic episodes, not sleeping for days, and erratic, sometimes frightening behavior that mimics schizophrenia.  On the same day the assault happened, Skyler also walked through the streets shirtless screaming at cops. I saw him try to smoke cigarettes through his nose and drink days old olive juice.  He popped in and out of different characters, and answered questions with riddles.  And the next day, when me and another close friend drove him to the hospital to get him treatment, I sat with him for hours in the Emergency Room as he sat strapped to a bed singing They Might Be Giants songs and talking like a cowboy.  I don’t know if he was cognizant enough to see that I was crying. It was one of the saddest things I’d ever seen. Here in front of me, was a guy I had known extremely well, but was obviously “not home”.  When I talked to the doctor and learned more about his specific illness, and that he would be coping with it for the rest of his life, it broke my heart.  Again, here was someone who was like a brother to me, and I just got told he may never be the same again.


And Emily Quinn, another Adventure Time staffer has confirmed all this:

As someone who has dealt with mental illness both in myself and with members of my family, and as someone who has been watching Skyler continuously dig himself into a hole, I’m glad this is being talked about. I know people will be upset, but the goal of this is not to be stigmatizing for other people with mental illnesses. There are thousands of people with mental illnesses who would never hurt a fly. However, just like you can’t generalize that EVERYONE with a mental illness assaults other people (sexually or otherwise), you also can’t generalize that everyone with mental illnesses do not. Some people do shitty things regardless of a mental illness.

I’m not using his illness as an excuse, I’m not minimizing his actions in any way shape or form. It’s still a despicable thing that Skyler did (both this time and times before). However, people need to know what else has been going on. Skyler was put in a position of having his own show, let the power go to his head, and was completely unable to emotionally handle the pressure. He has had episode after episode, and the studio did not know how to handle it. They eventually took him off most creative aspects of the show, but not entirely. The first time he was hospitalized, hardly anything was changed when he came back. They just assumed that since he was out of the hospital, that it meant he was “cured.” I was LIVID. No mental illness magically gets “cured.” But because there is such a stigma around mental disorders, nobody higher up knew how to deal with it. That’s a problem.


While this kind of thing—a showrunner falling to mental breakdown—is unusual, it isn’t the first time it has happened. Hwoever, it is probably the first time that this kind of scenario has played out in the extremely close knit and PUBLIC forum of Twitter and Tumblr used by artists and animators in this age group. While Cartoon Brew used the word “exclusive” the while thing had been playing out on both those platforms for days before Page’s ouster was reported on. The extremely frank tumblr posts are another thing you would not have seen in past scandals.

For the moment, it seems as if the attack on Partridge has been dealt with in the only way they could at Cartoon Network. And she seems to have a powerful and supportive network of friends to prevent her being ostracized for what was clearly not her problem. Let’s ope it stays that way. N the meantime, here’s some artwork by the very talented Partridge via her Tumblr.

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0 Comments on ‘Clarence’ creator Skylar Page removed over sexual assault and mental issues as of 7/4/2014 6:53:00 PM
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13. Kirby Case to SCOTUS more likely?

kirby captain victory

The family of Jack Kirby’s quest to regain some rights to the Marvel characters still has a chance to go all the way to the Supreme court, as THR’s sturdy legal expert Eriq Gardner reports. Gardner quotes some amicus (friend of the court, i.e. supporting document) briefs by experts as weighing in favor of it being heard:

It was authored by Bruce Lehman, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the chief advisor to President Bill Clinton on intellectual property matters. He writes on behalf of himself, former U.S. register of copyrights Ralph Oman (who served as chief minority counsel of the Senate’s IP subcommittee during the consideration of the 1976 Copyright Act), the Artists Rights Society (whose past members included Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso), the International Intellectual Property Institute and others.

But before getting into what’s said in this brief (provided below), we’ll turn to another amici curiae brief (also below) that offers a better set-up to what exactly is disputed. This one comes from Mark Evanier, a comic book historian who once apprenticed for Kirby and has been an advisor to Marvel, DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics. He joins John Morrow, another Kirby historian, as well as the PEN Center USA, one of the most prestigious organizations of novelists, poets, playwrights and screenwriters.


Although the Kirby case has gotten much further along in its journey to the Supremes than most of us ever thought, observers still pint out that it has one element that makes it being heard unlikely: a lack of division among lower court rulings. Marvel/Disney has won at every level of the court system. And the business-friendly current make-up of the Supreme Court makes a Kirby victory kind of unlikely, no matter how many heavy hitters weigh in on the amicus briefs.

That said, Kirby was always an underdog. And the fact that the underlying elements of the case—the meaning of the ‘instance and expense’ test to prove whether work was work for hire/on staff or independent—have been prominent enough that the court has actually ASKED for brief is telling as well.

Looks like this is going to go all the way down to the wire. 


13 Comments on Kirby Case to SCOTUS more likely?, last added: 6/23/2014
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14. Theft follows Denver Comic Con

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Just one more little bad news for Denver Comic Con — it seems two of the dealers, Mindy and Zac Skellington Conley of Hall of Justice Comic Art Gallery, were unloading the car after the show and had the proceeds stolen. About $1000 in cash was removed from the unlocked car, leaving them freeting about things like paying the rent. “I just kind of want my stuff back so I can at least pay for my bills and things that I need. I don’t really want to file charges on anybody,” Conleytold the local TV station.

In local fashion, area cartoonist Drew Litton has urged community members to buy some artwork from the gallery to help make up the gap.

The moral of the story? Take the money out of the car FIRST. Even if it is Sunday night in a nice part of Denver.
[Photo via MIndy Conley.]

2 Comments on Theft follows Denver Comic Con, last added: 6/18/2014
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15. Is the Clickhole Calvin and Hobbes Cartoon Illegal Child Porn?

Clickhole, the Onion’s answer to Buzzfeed and Clickhole, has posted an audacious NSFW video parody, “If You Grew Up With ‘Calvin and Hobbes,’ You Need to Watch This Now.” Spoilers below for those of you who aren’t already in custody haven’t seen it yet:

Clickhole’s video of Calvin and Hobbes having sex pretty much nukes anything an art critic has ever described as transgressive, but in so doing it also raises a serious legal concern. As you may recall, under 18 U.S. Code Sec. 1466A, U.S. law banning child pornography is not limited to visual depictions of real children.  This has already led to prosecutions for possession of comics or cartoons – in fact, animated child sex is reportedly being used as, well, clickbait by law enforcement.

Could watching the Clickhole Calvin and Hobbes video get you sent to jail?

Let’s go exploring!

One key aspect of current U.S. law — setting aside other countries that may have more expansive prohibitions – is that it reflects an adaptive response to the Supreme Court’s conclusion that earlier versions were too broad in ways that violated the First Amendment. As a result Section 1466A only bans non-realistic visual depictions such as the Calvin and Hobbes video if they are obscene or lack serious artistic, literary, political or scientific value.

Here, in brief, is why Congress went with that language. In a series of decisions several decades ago, the Supreme Court came up with a standard for obscenity that, it believes, passes constitutional muster. The standard is known as the Miller test for determining obscenity, and it has three key components: the material appeals to prurient interest, is patently offensive and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. By echoing this language, Congress hoped – and so far has mostly succeeded – in establishing a standard for visual depictions of minors in drawings, cartoons, sculptures or paintings that would survive a constitutional challenge.

1466A(a)(2) and (b)(2) ban, among other things, graphic images of a minor engaging in actual or simulated bestiality that lack serious artistic, literary, political or scientific value. Before we get to the question of value, it’s worth noting that the statute goes on to define “graphic” to refer to images in which “a viewer can observe any part of the genitals or pubic area of any depicted person or animal.” In essence, these sections take a shortcut past the prurient and patently offensive elements of the obscenity test, which are determined by community standards, by providing an absolute bright-line standard.

Watch the Clickhole Calvin and Hobbes video carefully and you’ll see that it arguably does not portray the genitals or pubic area of either character – the very sort of thing that a strategic company lawyer might tell a company producing such a video to do if it was determined to post it. That’s not a slam-dunk conclusion, though. Calvin is drawn in a way that resembles the iconic “Love Is …” one-panel cartoon, the product of a time before contemporary anti-child-porn laws as well as a strip that does not depict minors in sexual situations, at least in authorized versions.

Section 1466A(a)(1) and (b)(1) are somewhat more expansive. These provisions prohibit an obscene depiction of sexually explicit conduct, which extends to simulated bestiality and other sexual activity whether or not the genitals or pubic area appear.

What makes determining whether material is obscene particularly hard to determine is that the test looks to community standards – technically in regard to determining whether material appeals to the prurient interest or is patently offensive, but the community sensibility also tends to come into play in assessing whether a reasonable person would find that the material lacks socially redeeming value. This applies not only to a federal statute such as Section 1466A, but any state anti-obscenity or anti-child pornography laws under which the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon could be assessed.

This reliance on community standards has had the effect of balkanizing U.S. obscenity law. What is obscene in one jurisdiction can be perfectly legal in another. Case in point: the Christopher Handley case, which involved a manga collector. The Iowa district judge in that case concluded that 1466(a)(2) and (b)(2) are unconstitutional, but the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, expressly disagreed.

In short, if the science of law is, to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, an art of prediction, the current constitutional definition of obscenity is a Magic 8 Ball.

Which also brings us to 18 USC 2252C, a related provision that prohibits knowingly embedding words or digital images into the source code of a website with the intent (a) to deceive a person into viewing material constituting obscenity or (b) to deceive a minor into viewing material harmful to minors on the Internet. If one is dealing with a judge or jury likely to conclude that the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon is obscene, there is an equally significant risk of being found guilty of using misleading words (the clickbait headline) and images (the still frame before playing) to trick either an adult or a minor into clicking play.

So to answer the question of whether Clickhole’s Calvin and Hobbes Cartoon is illegal, I’d have to say it depends – on the jurisdiction, on the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the case presented by the defendant’s lawyers. And again, the rest of the world is not bound by our First Amendment jurisprudence and its definition of obscene, so there could be a greater risk elsewhere. There’s a substantial possibility, of course, that nothing will ever happen to Clickhole or any viewers of this video, but it’s not a risk that many lawyers would want their clients to take.

11 Comments on Is the Clickhole Calvin and Hobbes Cartoon Illegal Child Porn?, last added: 6/19/2014
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16. Siegel Superman case ends (almost)

superman79 192x300 Siegel Superman case ends (almost)As expected, the district court has ruled that the 2001 settlement agreement between DC and the Siegels is binding and did indeed transfer the Superman copyright to DC. But what about Superboy?This is how the lawsuit ends, not with a bang but a whimper:

The Court GRANTS DC’s motion for summary judgment on DC’s fourth counterclaim and holds that the October 19, 2001 agreement remains enforceable and operated itself to transfer the Siegels Superman rights to DC. This ends this Court’s involvement in the parties’ dispute ….

The ruling itself addresses Toberoff’s arguments for getting around the agreement and finds them wanting. The court agreed that it needed to make sure that the agreement did indeed transfer the rights,  but as we discussed in my previous post the court found the matter to have been resolved by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

If at times it sounds as if the ruling is a bit passive aggressive about having been boxed in by the interpretations of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, welcome to the real-world politics of the trial & appellate court divide.

The court also concludes that certain arguments were brought years later than they should have, which again is not a surprise. On page 10, we see that DC decided to use the argument that the Siegel side had failed to make a timely affirmative defense pleading, proposed in my previous post, and the judge agreed that it was correct.

The court leaves open the possibility of subsequent state-court breach of contract filings based on disputes over the performance of the settlement, but any such filing would be separate from the Superman copyright litigation now being closed.

After declaring the Superman copyright dispute to be over, the court goes on to ask for briefing on a couple additional issues that one would think have been resolved by the settlement, but the court wants to make absolutely certain before it ends the legal proceedings once and for all. The issues: the Superboy rights and the early Action #1 promotional ads.

One can expect that DC will make try to make quick work of both.

The settlement states that the Siegel family is to “transfer all of its rights in the ‘Superman’ and ‘Spectre’ properties (including ‘Superboy’)’” to DC, and DC will doubtless argue that this means what it says. Moreover, it’s not even clear that the Siegels’ claim to Superboy goes beyond any rights they might have had in it as a derivative work of Superman–in 2007 the district court vacated a previous ruling that gave the Siegels ownership of Superboy as a separate character, indicating that Superboy might instead be merely a derivative work.

As for the promotional ads, the 2008 ruling found that those belong to DC. This is why the judge had to come up with the weird ruling that the ads gave DC only the copyright in a black-and-white strongman–otherwise, the Siegels’ share of Action #1 would have given them far less.

And now, of course, that share is gone.

My condolences to the Siegel and Shuster heirs for what must be a crushing blow. The legal dispute may be all but over, but the work of Jerry, Joanne and Joe on behalf of creators’ rights will always continue to inspire.

 

 

11 Comments on Siegel Superman case ends (almost), last added: 3/24/2013
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17. DC moves to end Superman, Superboy lawsuits

Tweet Yesterday’s summary judgment filings confirm that settlement talks have been ongoing–and the Siegel side is in disarray.The motion filed yesterday was as expected as a player trotting to first base after ball 4. When an appeals court sends a case back down saying that the case is all but over but the filing, the [...]

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18. Siegel and Shuster attorney to court: It’s over

Tweet News reports are circulating that the Siegel and Shuster heirs have asked the lower court to dismiss DC’s copyright lawsuits. What actually happened is rather different. The Siegel and Shuster heirs’ attorney, Marc Toberoff, appears to have conceded that the Superman copyright dispute is over and the heirs have lost. Here’s what happened in [...]

15 Comments on Siegel and Shuster attorney to court: It’s over, last added: 2/7/2013
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19. Ron Marz, Mark Millar, Comics Industry Acts to Shut Down Cyberbully

Abusive attacks via Twitter aren’t new, but have certainly increased in media visibility over the past few months. Racist and sexist comments and threats have been detailed repeatedly in the mainstream press recently, often aimed at various prominent people in society. It also exists on a personal level, sadly, with personal attacks and bullying on the rise online.

And sadly, this is true for the comics industry as well. I hadn’t been aware of this myself, but today Ron Marz alerted his followers to one twitter user in particular, who has for the past few months been anonymously attacking prominent women in the industry with gender-specific abuse and threats. Writers, artists and journalists have all targeted by this poster over an extended period of time, whose attacks tend to refer back to rape, submission and misogyny at every opportunity. These were explicit threats made to women simply because they were women.

Mark Millar was one of those who saw Marz’s call for awareness, and made a post to his Millarworld forum in which he not only detailed the comments, but also made plans to take a stand against them. Asking for legal advice and people affected by the poster to step forward, several people contacted Millar via twitter and his message board with what could be done about the comments.

Following which, he posted again later today, explaining that he has contacted a lawyer with a view to taking legal action against this poster – who has used various accounts over the past few months to attack people, but left behind an IP trail. The police, Millar says, have been informed, and will now be following up on this. Action will be taken within the next few days.

The threats are misogynistic in the extreme. I won’t link to them.

It’s a reminder that while abuse does exist online, they come from the minority voice. For every person who decides to use the internet to try and threaten other people, there are tens of thousands of other people who won’t tolerate prejudice. If you ever find yourself to be a victim of online abuse, please do not suffer it in silence. Let other people know.

16 Comments on Ron Marz, Mark Millar, Comics Industry Acts to Shut Down Cyberbully, last added: 9/3/2012
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20. Troll toll: the dark side of the internet


So I’ve been on vacation (on and off) for the last two weeks and hadn’t been paying too much attention to the internet—a wonderful activity that I highly recommend every six months or so. On the way home from a wedding I was surprised to learn that the man I call “John V.” seems to have become the focus of concentrated internet outrage for a day or so—and I couldn’t be more thrilled.John V., a message board poster who uses rotating IPs to avoid filters, has been haunting the comment boards of female writers for over two years. A few months ago, for whatever reason, he seems to have started using Twitter as a base for his insults and rape-obsessed ragings. As you can see from the above, about a month ago he made a series of posts aimed at me, Tom Spurgeon, DCWKA’s Sue, Jill Pantozzi and a few others that shocked quite a few people. Although John V. is clearly a misogynist with a deep hatred of women, he also seemed to have a mad on for men of comics like Spurgeon.

At this time we all just ignored him. It was nothing new. I know he’s been hounding Sue for a long time. His Twitter bio read “I eat loudmouthed feminist morons for breakfast. Afterwards I’m full because they are really, really fat.” It was also nothing new for The Beat. I have many of his deleted comments saved up. Here’s a sample:

stringofpearlsforheidi
heidisuckedme@aol.com
Heh, linking to dcwomenkickingass. One dumb bitch linking to a dumber bitch. Classic Heidi.


And more recently:

heidisucksmyballs@aol.com
Hey Heidi, guess who’s going to wondercon? Can’t wait to see you there, sugar britches. This is going to be really fun.
John V


While these sexual threats and “I’ll be back!” warnings are the products of what is clearly a disturbed mind, John V’s most annoying trick was posing as someone else—often a woman—and completely derailing otherwise at least semi-intelligent discussions, such as his posing as “Jason in the UK” and arguing that Faith Erin Hicks was a welfare slacker despite the plain statement that she had worked at an animation studio. My troll radar wasn’t up and Hicks herself defended herself against this creep, a situation I deeply regret and which I’ve apologized for. Here was his excited “unveiling:”

Well folks, now that things have died down, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed derailing this thread and causing the internet shit storm that I did. My troll powers are as unparalleled as the idiocy and irrelevancy of female comic bloggers. I had only intended on messing with my favorite victim Heidi. What a bonus it was then to get Faith Hicks all butt hurt!


Since then I’ve been very suspicious of new posters engaging in long arguments in the many gender comment threads here…if I’ve gone too far the other way, too bad. One rotten apple and all that….

Frankly, I never bought this up before because John V. was looking for attention and hoping to frighten people and I didn’t want to give him any more attention. But now the cat seems to be out of the bag. Over the last few days he made the mistake of targeting Ron Marz, who got people more up in arms about it; and then Mark Millar saw it and was shocked:

As male pros we maybe live in a little bubble. This might go on more than we realise. But we need to clamp down on this shit fast… ethically, if not because many of these pros are personal friends of ours. Comics has the coolest rep with people now. It's a broad church and much less of a boys club in particular than it was when I was a kid. This kind of thing just gives us a horrible name and we owe it to ourselves as well as the pros concerned to stop it.


According to Millar’s sources, John V. is a 51-year-old married man living in California. And the law has been engaged:

Thank you very much, but I engaged a criminal lawyer in LA yesterday and have one of the women involved co-ordinating with the others today, hopefully. I don’t want to say much more in a public forum just now as it may prejudice the case and between the details we’ve got and the tweets we saved the police have everything they need. Even if this doesn’t go to court the guy should hopefully be publicly outed in California and the shame of this will not only stop him attacking women online, but also discourage others from trying this in future. I found out last night that this idiot had been making sexual threats to some of the women concerned for over two years now.


While no one has contacted me directly, it does seem that John V’s Twitter accounts—he had several—have been shut down. If this guy is as crazy as he seems—and his mentions of rape and escalation of contact over the last few months suggest that there is some real escalating mental illness involved—I doubt that the threat of legal action will be enough to stop his behavior. But we’ll see.

And of course there has been a ton of internet commentary on this. And a private message from a woman industry professional I respect greatly who says she actually altered her public behavior over fears about John V. I can’t express the rage and sorrow this makes me feel. I never thought John V. was anything but a pest, but I can see how others have taken him more seriously. Maybe I didn’t take him seriously enough.

There’s also been some discussion of whether it took a man to actually rouse people against the troll. I’m really, truly grateful to Ron and Mark for raising awareness of this. One of the reasons I know several women never brought this up is because they felt they would be questioned for making accusations—and indeed some of the “free speech” advocates in various comment threads has diverted attention from the fact that some malicious idiot was making threats and crude sexual comments about women.

That said, this is far from my first time at the internet pigsty dance. I was once a member of a message board where male members proudly discussed that they loved to make “jokingly” misogynist statements. When I complained (or argued) I was told I didn’t get the joke and was being childish. Guess which message board I don’t go to any more?

Back on the Comicon.com and original TCJ.com boards—petri dishes of internet fungus in a variety of colors—a coterie of deeply embedded trolls got on my case a number of times—photoshopping a picture of me into a sexual act, calling me names, blah blah blah. At the time, these things bothered me, of course, but it bothered me more when some of the perpetrators were eventually allowed back into the fold—I’ll tell you this right now, my tolerance for internet trolling is Zero and my forgiveness is non-existent. Electronic emotion is cheap, and if you go out of your way to insult me on the internet, I have no reason to forgive that member ID ever.

201209041150 Troll toll: the dark side of the internet

Nowadays, I have more of a seen-it-all attitude towards the internet and message boards. I get annoyed and angered but not upset. However, I know a lot of people aren’t as thick-skinned as I am. And while we all take our lumps on a public forum, I’d suggest that those who were so outraged by the crude rape threats of John V. look a little deeper into some of the other messages floating around. For instance, Rachel Edidin examines the Idiot Nerd Girl meme which started as another expression of “get your cooties out of my hobby” insecurity:

I hate the Idiot Nerd Girl meme. I hate it for much the same reason Feminspire writer Jessica Bagnall hates it: the entrenched geek misogyny that informs its pretty pink face. I hate it because it’s a convenient distillation of everything I hate about the “fake geek girl” strawman. I hate it because it vilifies enthusiasm. I hate it because, as a member of the geek community and a geek-industry professional, and especially as a feminist geek, I nurture a deep and abiding dislike for gatekeepers.

I hate the Idiot Nerd Girl meme because it’s not just a meme in the diluted ‘net-slang sense. It reflects and recycles and reinforces a bundle of more traditionally defined memes: the sticky and tenacious subtexts and cultural dogmas that justify and normalize misogyny and harassment and make the geek community so seethingly toxic to female members–and especially female newcomers–that it doesn’t even need a formal gate to keep them out. Idiot Nerd Girl is the throwaway byproduct of a culture that regularly responds to criticism from women with flurries of rape threats.


One thing is true: I am definitely seeing a lot more male insecurity in the trolls and threats, as do some of the women I’ve privately corresponded with over this. I’m sorry that some of you feel powerless when women invade your pastimes. But just as uniting the power of the crystals makes the most powerful crystal or it takes a lot of vehicles to make a Unicron …the more people who take part, the more powerful the hobby. Guys, we’re not STEALING power. We’re making it.

In conclusion, I don’t know the actual status of any legal action against John V., but anyone who wants copies of my correspondence can email me at comicsbeat at gmail dot com.

And thanks again to Ron Marz and Mark Millar for raising attention on this matter. It’s nice to have someone in your corner.

15 Comments on Troll toll: the dark side of the internet, last added: 9/4/2012
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21. News Notes from Around: Archie, Takei, Schulz, Moonstone, etc

Some quickies from the mailbag and around:

Steven Scott has been promoted to Director of Publicity and Marketing at Archie comics. Scott joined the Archie Comics PR team as Publicity and Marketing Coordinator last year following a stint at Marvel. Scott will supervise the company’s publicity outreach, social media and marketing strategy, and he’s already been filling our inbox with newsy notes such as this one. Welcome!

• Actor and Icon George Takei and comics creator Dan Parent will be signing Kevin Keller #6 at Midtown Comics Times Square today from 9:00PM to 11:00PM. You will need a ticket for the signing. The issue involves gay Riverdaler Kevin Keller picking Takei as his idol, and a journey to a local convention to meet up.

• Sue of DCWKA notes that DC ran a preview at the Mary Sue, a progressive attempt at marketing to the female fan market. We join Sue in applauding this move.

Jazan Wild, aka Jason Barnes likes to sue people over the fact that he once created a comic called Carnival of Souls. A judge has refused to throw out one of the cases , a claim that Melissa Marr’s fantasy novel Carnival of Souls infringes on his trademark. While you can’t trademark a title of a single work, the judge felt that Wild has created a series, which he did. Wild has also sued the TV shoes Heroes and a songwriter that he had a deal gone sour. Wild is so busy suing, how does he find time to make comics?

article 2243183 16598947000005DC 892 634x707 News Notes from Around: Archie, Takei, Schulz, Moonstone, etc

• While his first marriage was breaking up, legendary Peanuts creator Charles Shulz had an affair with a younger woman, and the drawings he sent her are being auctioned off. Good grief, Daily Mail. It sounds icky, but the drawings are sweet. Can you imagined being romanced with original Peanuts drawings?

• Moonstone Comics has been around for a while, but they publish in fits and starts these days. But they are still around. In April they’ll publish DOMINO LADY/ Sherlock Holmes #1 by Nancy Holder and Reno Maniquis, a DOMINO LADY: Blonde Bombshell collection by the same team plus Danny Sempere and LAI WAN: The Dreamwalker by CJ Henderson and Kieran Yanner. Here’s some covers. Headlights!

DLSH1sm News Notes from Around: Archie, Takei, Schulz, Moonstone, etc

DLtpbSCsm News Notes from Around: Archie, Takei, Schulz, Moonstone, etc

laiWanGN News Notes from Around: Archie, Takei, Schulz, Moonstone, etc

Send your news notes to comicsbeat at gmail dot com

1 Comments on News Notes from Around: Archie, Takei, Schulz, Moonstone, etc, last added: 12/5/2012
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22. The Legal View: Did Marc Toberoff actually win in today’s Superman case ruling?

201212131445 The Legal View: Did Marc Toberoff actually win in todays Superman case ruling?
by Jeff Trexler

You might hear today that the district court judge has handed Toberoff another stunning defeat this week, “a doozy and an outright win for DC.

It’s actually a win for Toberoff, at least procedurally.

Here’s what happened.

As was widely reported on The Beat and elsewhere, back on October 17, 2012, Judge Wright granted DC partial summary judgment in its action against Toberoff’s Pacific Pictures. In particular, he ruled that the Shuster estate’s termination was invalid, along with subsequent agreements giving Pacific Pictures a substantial percentage of the Superman rights.

That was a momentous ruling–and, as I discussed, not at all unexpected. Toberoff tried to get the judge to vacate it, but to no avail–unlike 2008, this time he didn’t luck out and get a sympathetic new judge.

One would expect that Toberoff’s next step would be to appeal the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, there’s a slight hitch in the rules of civil procedure. Because the October order was a partial summary judgment–the court ruled on some but not all of the claims at issue–there was no final judgment in the case for Toberoff to appeal.

Accordingly, in November Toberoff asked the judge to issue a final judgment certifying his October order. This way, as Toberoff correctly noted, he could appeal the October rulings in an expeditious fashion.

This is called a Rule 54(b) motion, for the section of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that allows a court to “direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims … if the court expressly determines that there is not just reason for delay.”

On December 11 the judge granted Toberoff’s request and certified the previous partial summary judgment order as final in accordance with Rule 54(b). Shortly thereafter on that same day, December 11, Toberoff filed his appeal with the Ninth Circuit.

For an indication of just how expected this was, note the date on Toberoff’s 12/11 filing–it was prepared on December 10.

On a side note, the judge didn’t grant Toberoff’s request for a stay of proceedings in regard to the other remaining issues–read the order carefully & you’ll find that the judge, in an interesting display of informality, issued his judgment by signing the alternative draft order prepared by DC’s outside counsel, which left out the grant of a stay.

Of course, more generally the ongoing Siegel and Shuster cases do continue to offer some interesting inside-baseball material for discussion, and if I can break away from other matters before another ruling comes down I’ll offer a few thoughts here at The Beat.

Rule 54(b) Motion and Judgment in the Pacific Pictures – Joe Shuster – Marc Toberoff District Court Case

4 Comments on The Legal View: Did Marc Toberoff actually win in today’s Superman case ruling?, last added: 12/15/2012
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23. Do comic company lawyers kill creative freedom?

TweetAmong the many thoughtful questions raised in my discussion with the Superman Homepage earlier this week was whether the Siegel lawsuit prompted changes to Superman’s uniform. This might seem like a small issue, but it reflects serious concerns about freedom and integrity in a corporate context. It wouldn’t be responsible to downplay the importance of corporate attorneys [...]

19 Comments on Do comic company lawyers kill creative freedom?, last added: 1/30/2013
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24. The Eyes of Joanne Siegel

Tweet In 2008, the Siegel family won a historic courtroom victory. So why did they risk it all on an appeal? An encounter between Jerry Siegel’s widow, Joanne,  and Super Boys author Brad Ricca provides a telling clue.On his must-read blog covering material connected to his forthcoming Siegel and Shuster biography, Ricca tells the following story as [...]

15 Comments on The Eyes of Joanne Siegel, last added: 1/25/2013
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25. Man sentenced in cartoon obscenity case

In a troubling case, a Missouri man bas been sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of obscene images of children.

3 Comments on Man sentenced in cartoon obscenity case, last added: 2/2/2013
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