Comics Lowdown: Comic Con court case kicks off

Plus: More court cases, Stephanie Zuppo, Lucy Bellwood and more!

Legal: Salt Lake Comic Con tried to “hijack” the Comic-Con brand name, an attorney for Comic-Con International said in opening arguments in the trademark suit between the two convention organizers. “You don’t need to use ‘Comic-Con’ in your name to identify your comic and popular-arts convention,” said Comic-Con International attorney Callie Bjurstrom. In making a distinction between the two, she said “Convention is a generic term. Comic-Con is a brand.” Salt Lake Comic Con attorney Michael Katz, on the other hand, said that Salt Lake organizers merely followed existing practice when adopting the comic con name, as many other conventions had before them: “They used the same formula: Salt Lake to refer to where they were, and Comic Con to refer to what they were,” he said.

Legal: Gary Mark Crider, known as the “comic-con bandit” because he wore masks of characters from Star Wars and Marvel comics while robbing banks, has been sentenced to 39 years in prison. Crider, who was already on parole and federal probation, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery, nine counts of robbery, and one count of theft, all felonies.

Legal: Ali Charaf Damache, an Algerian native who is accused of being involved in a plot to kill artist Lars Vilks, who depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog, has requested that he be allowed to represent himself at trial in a federal court in Philadelphia.

Political Cartoons: The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar is back in hot water: The Malaysian Police brought him in for questioning about a cartoon referencing government corruption, on the same day that a Kuala Lumpur upheld a travel ban forbidding him to leave the country. “I refused to answer any questions raised by the investigating officer,” Zunar told a local newspaper. “The investigation is a form of intimidation against me.” He uploaded the cartoon, which shows the government breaking into public funds to pay its debts, to Facebook three months ago, and he was charged under under Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act, which involves “improper use of network facilities that create obscene, indecent, false, menacing and offensive characters with intent to annoy abuse, threaten or harass another person.” The maximum punishment is a year in prison and a fine of about $12,000; Zunar already faces up to 43 years in prison if he is found guilty of sedition charges that are pending against him.

Bright Tetteh Ackwerh’s depiction of Ghanaian politicians begging from Chinese leaders

Political Cartoons: Here’s a cartoonist making the news for not being arrested for his views: Ghanaian cartoonist Bright Tetteh Ackwerh has published a number of cartoons criticizing China for its involvement in illegal mining in Ghana, so far without consequences. The Chinese embassy sent a letter to the government of Ghana, asking that they “pay due attention to this situation, take the necessary action to stop such things from happening again and guide the media to give an objective coverage on the illegal mining issue,” but Ackwerh drew another cartoon a few days later mocking the letter—and he continues to critique the Chinese and the mining in his work.

The Biz

Local Hero: The Vermont paper Seven Days interviews Stephanie Zuppo, the creator and editor of The Ladybroad Ledger, which the paper describes as “the first all-femme and nonbinary newsprint comic.” Zuppo has also created Conosaurus, a website to help creators and fans plan their convention schedules.

Creators: Lucy Bellwood’s drawing (Image up top!) went viral, but it didn’t make her rich. She breaks out the specifics on her Patreon page.

Retailing: Michael Sangiacomo offers some suggestions for buying gifts for comics fans, with help from some Cleveland-area comics retailers.

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