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: Who created Batman?

Cape Cod man says his dad invented Batman! Plus: Pepe the Frog, Frank Miller, another comic convention legal battle and more!

Batman Claim: Although his claims have been met with some skepticism, Frank Foster III is firmly convinced his father invented Batman. The Cape Cod octogenarian has a number of sketches by his father, Frank Foster II, which depict a superhero with many of the same characteristics as DC’s Batman; the sketches are dated 1932, and one of them has several possible names, with a checkmark next to “Batman.” Frank Foster II went to art school with Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and in the 1930s, when he was living in New York, showed his portfolio to several comics publishers; the younger Foster believes someone may have seen the sketches and stolen the idea. He tried to interest several auction houses in the drawings, but none would take them, so he will be selling them on eBay. Foster elaborates further on his claims at his website.

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Image Expo returns in February

Image’s mini-convention returns in the company’s new hometown, Portland, Oregon.

After skipping 2017, Image Expo, Image Comics’ mini-convention featuring creators and title announcements, will return next year. The event is scheduled for Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Leftbank Annex in Portland, Oregon. Tickets are now available for purchase.

The all-day event is open to fans, retailers and press, and will feature “the hottest names in comics and offers a unique experience for fans to have unprecedented access to the writers and artists behind their favorite comic books at exclusive autograph sessions and comic-focused programming.” Based on previous years, expect some surprises to walk out on stage during the keynote.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Lee Francis on The Indigenous Comic-Con and more

The publisher, retailer and convention organizer talks about Albuquerque’s upcoming convention, Native Realities Publishing and much more.

Dr. Lee Francis IV is the CEO and publisher of Native Realities Publishing, which has made a mark with comics like Tribal Force, Hero Twins and The Wool of Jonesy, and graphic novels like Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers and the upcoming Deer Woman: An Anthology.

Francis also runs Red Planet, a bookstore in Albuquerque, NM, and The Indigenous Comic-Con. The show takes place next weekend, November 10-12, in Albuquerque with additional events on Nov. 9. We spoke about publishing, the convention, and being an indigenerd.

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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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Smash Pages Q&A: Hope Nicholson on ‘Gothic Tales of Haunted Love’ and more

The Canadian writer, editor and publisher discusses her work on Prairie Comics Festival, Bedside Press, Secret Loves of Geeks and her latest Kickstarter.

Hope Nicholson is one of those people working behind the scenes who make the comics industry function. The Canadian writer, editor and publisher is the founder and publisher of Bedside Press, which is responsible for books both new (Window Horses, A Minyen Yidn) and reprints (Fashion in Action, Polka Dot Pirate). She runs the Prairie Comics Festival in Winnipeg, Canada. She wrote the new book The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen about female comics characters. She’s the woman behind The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, is a Kickstarter Thought Leader, and was one of the people selected to be part of Kickstarter Gold, in the company’s words, “for their creativity and ingenuity.”

Nicholson first received notice for spearheading the republication of Canadian comics like Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Brok Windsor. She’s a consulting editor on Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird graphic novel series, which is being published by Dark Horse. Nicholson also edits and publishes a wide range of anthologies including Moonshot, Enough Space for Everyone Else, and her current project, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love.

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Comics Lowdown: Diversity reigns at Lion Forge

Also: Who is the writer of Death Note? Victoria Jamieson, drawing and depression, big list o’ cons this weekend and more!

Diversity in All Things, Including Diversity: Lion Forge senior editor Joe Illidge talks about Catalyst Prime, his company’s new superhero universe that emphasizes diversity in its characters and creators:

“We don’t always want to do straight lines, because in a weird way that segregates talent,” Illidge said. “That only says, well if you’re black, you can only write black characters or if you’re a woman you can only write a female character. We want to show that we can expand beyond that.”

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