Comics Lowdown: Comic-Con International wins trademark suit

‘Comic con’ belongs to Comic-Con! Dr. Seuss Enterprises v. ComicMix! Plus Connor Willumson, behind the scenes on comiXology’s Guided View, recent personnel changes and more!

Legal: Comic-Con International won its trademark suit against Salt Lake Comic Con on Friday, when a jury determined that “comic con” is a trademark, and that Salt Lake Comic Con’s use of it was likely to confuse the public. However, the jury did not grant CCI the $12 million in damages that was requested in the lawsuit; stating they did not believe the infringement was intentional, they awarded CCI $20,000 for advertising to clear up any confusion.

Rob Salkowitz lays out the history of the case and the possible implications at Forbes, pointing out that some conventions already pay CCI a licensing fee for the use of the term. He also noted that the organizers of SLCC, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, tried to paint themselves as the Davids to CCI’s Goliath and ran a crowdfunding campaign to pay for their legal fees—but they also gave themselves $225,000 in bonuses. At the trial, however, CCI produced a survey that showed more than 70 percent of respondents identified the term “comic con” with the San Diego event.

In a statement released later that day, CCI reiterated that the trademark was theirs and that they had worked for almost 50 years to build that brand. “From the beginning all that we asked of the defendants was to stop using our Comic-Con trademarks,” the statement said. “Today we obtained a verdict that will allow us to achieve this. For that we are grateful.”

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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.

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Comics Lowdown: Court strikes down gag order in ‘comic-con’ lawsuit

Plus: Top graphic novels, comics retail chat and two new manga from Jiro Taniguchi!

The 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that a gag order imposed by a judge in the trademark lawsuit between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con is unconstitutional. The case stretches back to 2014, when Comic-Con International, which produces the San Diego comic con, sued the organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “comic con,” which CCI claims it owns. The Salt Lake organization countersued, claiming the term is widely used by other conventions and is a generic term. The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 28, and because they were concerned that Salt Lake’s postings about the issue on social media would taint the jury pool, CCI asked that they be restrained from commenting publicly about the case. U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia placed a strict limit on what Salt Lake could post about the case, and limited that even further after CCI claimed that Salt Lake violated the ban. However, the appeals court overturned that order on Monday, saying,

San Diego Comic-Con has presented no evidence as to how many, if any, of the approximately 35,200 Twitter followers are registered voters in San Diego and Imperial counties and how many, if any, of the 120,000 attendees of the 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con in Utah are even possibly members of the current San Diego-area jury pool.

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Comics Lowdown: Jack Kirby special edition

A roundup of some of the Jack Kirby 100th birthday news this week!

Not only is it “Kirby Week” here on Smash Pages, but the entire comic industry has come together to honor and remember one of the industry’s greatest and most influential creators, Jack Kirby, for what would have been his 100th birthday. Here’s a round-up of links related to “The King.”

The first place to check is Marvel.com, which has an entire section dedicated to Jack Kirby. The colorful articles have been posted throughout the month of August, with reading lists, character features and articles by Jim Zub, Carlos Pacheco, Mark Waid and Mike Allred. Plus there are several videos about the life of Jack Kirby.

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‘Saga,’ Sonny Liew, Jill Thompson take home 2017 Eisner Awards

Ceremony honors legends, including Jack Kirby, George Perez, Jim Starlin, Walt Simonson and Los Bros Hernandez.

Sonny Liew, Jill Thompson and the team behind Saga all took home multiple awards last night at the 28th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Saga took home four awards, including Best Continuing Series and Best Writer for Brian K. Vaughan, while artist Fiona Staples won Best Cover Artist and Best Penciller/Inker. Liew ‘s awards for his graphic novel, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, included Best Writer/Artist, Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia, and Best Publication Design. And Jill Thompson was recognized three times: for Best Single Issue/One-Shot for her work on Beast of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In, Best Graphic Album—New for Wonder Woman: The True Amazon and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist.

Several comics legends were also honored at the ceremony. Jack Kirby and William Messner-Loebs both received the Bill Finger Excellence in Comics Writing Award, while Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, George Perez, Milt Gross, H.G. Peter, Antonio Prohias and Dori Seda were all inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, created to honor those people in comics and the popular arts who have worked to help others, went to Joe Ferrara, for his work in prostate cancer awareness, and Mark Andreyko for curating the Love Is Love anthology after the Pulse nightclub shooting. Love is Love also won for best anthology.

Other awards presented at the ceremony include the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailer Award, which went to Comicazi in Somerville, Massachusetts, and the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award, which wnet to Anne Szabla, writer/artist of Bird-Boy.

Here’s the complete list of all nominees, with the winners bolded:

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Comics Lowdown: Graphic novel sales are up, floppies are flat

The comics market is growing, but monthly comics are not. Also: A week of great comics articles from NPR!

By the Numbers: The comics market increased by 5% to a total of $1.085 billion in 2016, according to an estimate by Milton Griepp of ICv2 and John Jackson Miller of Comichron. Graphic novels sold in bookstores accounted for almost all the growth, however; they were up 16%, while sales of monthly comics in comic shops, on newsstands, and in digital format remained flat. Griepp saw the graphic novel growth as evidence that the market is expanding, as more women and children find graphic novels, while Miller credited Marvel’s Star Wars comics and DC’s Rebirth event.

Whatever Happened to comiXology? Three years after the largest digital comics service was purchased by Amazon, they still have plenty going on, says comics-biz maven Rob Salkowitz, including using Amazon’s “affinity marketing” (if you liked this, you’ll like that) tools, expanding to foreign audiences, and bringing in new readers via the ComiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited, and Prime Reading programs.

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Comics Lowdown: More Manga, Scary Stories and an Inside Look at North Korea

A North Korean cartoonist looks at the lighter side of defection, an American cartoonist turns down an Iranian award, and Humanoids announces an all-ages horror graphic novel.

Struggles and Smiles: Former North Korean animator Choi Seong-guk was surprised at how different the comics were when he defected to South Korea: “When I first saw South Korean cartoons, I just didn’t get them,” he says. “There were no stories about patriotism or catching spies or war. They just seemed useless to me.” There were a lot of other differences too, including some idioms that he misunderstood. Now he has turned his experiences into an online comic that depicts both the funny and the serious side of the lives of North Koreans at home and in South Korea.

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Frank Miller’s ‘300’ prequel due next year

Check out new preview art for ‘Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander.’

Entertainment Weekly reports that Frank Miller’s 300 prequel will arrive next year from Dark Horse Comics.

With quite the mouthful for a title, Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander will “focus on the Persian emperor Xerxes, the so-called ‘King of Kings’ who raised a massive army to invade Greece in the fifth century B.C. to get revenge for his father’s death and become a god,” according to EW. “The title suggests the story will also look forward to the rise of Alexander the Great, who destroyed the Persian Empire a few centuries after Xerxes’ reign.”

Miller has talked about doing the comic for a while, at least as far back as 2009-2010.

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Comics Lowdown: Comic-Con to Stay in San Diego

Plus: Udon to publish Daigo manga, another comics shop is robbed, a comics professor quits his job

It’s official: Comic-Con International will remain in San Diego for now, resisting the blandishments of other cities such as Los Angeles and Anaheim, which have been trying to woo it away. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced on June 30 that the city has signed a three-year deal with Comic-Con that will last through 2021; the current contract ends after next year’s show. Faulconer made a pitch for expanding the convention center, something that has been talked about for years now; the City Council recently refused his request to put a special tax on the November ballot to fund an expansion. Con-goers get a bit of a break in this new contract, though: The last contract held all hotel rooms to their 2016 prices for the duration, and the new one only allows a 4% increase over the 2018 price over the subsequent three years.

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