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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James Kochalka’s ‘Mechaboys’ coming from Top Shelf next year

Two teen boys build their own battle suit to fight bullies in a new graphic novel.

American Elf, Johnny Boo and SuperF*ckers creator (not to mention musician and the first official Cartoonist Laureate of the state of Vermont) James Kochalka returns in March with a new graphic novel from Top Shelf — Mechaboys. The story focuses on two teenagers who build their own battle suit after getting picked on by bullies.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Sophie Goldstein on ‘House of Women’

The creator of ‘The Oven’ discusses her new book from Fantagraphics, as well as science fiction, her next book and much more.

Sophie Goldstein is best known as the cartoonist behind the book The Oven, and the co-writer and artist of the webcomic Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell. She’s received multiple Ignatz Awards and her work has appeared in Best American Comics.

Fantagraphics has just released House of Women, the collection of Goldstein’s Ignatz Award-winning series. Goldstein and I have been meeting each other at comic shows for years and I last interviewed her when The Oven was released, shortly after House of Women Part 1 won an Ignatz Award. The new book, which Goldstein designed, is beautiful, and we spoke about the changes in her artwork over the course of making it, science fiction and her next book, An Embarrassment of Witches.

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Holiday shopping deals from comiXology, Drawn & Quarterly, Skybound and more

Get Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on comics, merchandise and more.

With the arrival of Black Friday come several opportunities for comic fans looking for that perfect gift or just a good deal. Here’s a rundown of some comic-related things to check out today, over the weekend and on Monday (which is Cyber Monday).

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Spies save the world from the supernatural in ‘Beasts of the Black Hand’

Paul Harding, Ron Marz, Matthew Dow Smith and Neeraj Menon look to kickstart a new graphic novel featuring a British secret service agent’s battle against the mad monk Rasputin.

Ron Marz and Matthew Dow Smith have teamed up with sculptor Paul Harding for Beasts of the Black Hand, a new graphic novel they’re funding through Kickstarter. Featuring colors by Neeraj Menon, the first volume will come out in early 2018, “laying the groundwork for an epic multi-volume story.”

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Smash Pages Q&A: GG on ‘I’m Not Here’

The Canadian cartoonist discusses her latest project, published by Koyama Press.

GG is the pen name of a Canadian cartoonist who in recent years has produced a small but beautiful body of work. In a series of short comics like Semi-Vivi, Valley, Don’t Leave Me Alone and I’m Crazy she’s established herself as an amazing talent. GG’s artwork is clean and precise, and the clarity of the art stands in sharp contrast to her writing, where she leaves the meaning of the narrative up to the reader. There’s a way in which her comics are very quiet and yet simultaneously unsettling and off-putting. They’re tales of transformation, disruption, and told in a way that the reader is never instructed what to think, how to react or how to feel. The result can be unsettling and strange and a difficult read, as every panel should be scoured to understand what’s happening. It can also be transcendent and brilliant.

This year Koyama Press published I’m Not Here, GG’s longest work to date and her first book. It is arguably her best work to date. The book features a young woman who is caretaker for her mother and walks around town taking photographs. What happens next, well, that depends on the reader. As someone who has been a caretaker and likes to walk, I have my own take on what happens and what it means – which is no doubt different from many readers and no doubt different from GG – but that is precisely the response she wants to create. That sense of narrative uncertainty requires readers to engage with the story differently. I’m Not Here is quite simply one of the most affecting and best comics of the year and GG was kind enough to open about the book and how she works.

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Comics Lowdown: My Favorite Thing Is Comics

Awards, best of the year, comics journalism comics, and how the shift in retail channels is changing the industry.

The Best of the Year lists are starting to roll out. Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow tops Amazon’s list, which also includes Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer and Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. That book shows up on Publisher’s Weekly’s list as well, but the similarities end there.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Joseph Remnant on ‘Cartoon Clouds’

The creator of ‘Blindspot’ and artist of Harvey Pekar’s ‘Cleveland’ discusses his first solo graphic novel from Fantagraphics, balancing his work as a storyboarding artist with his own projects, and more.

Like most comics fans I first got to know Joseph Remnant’s work from The Pekar Project. The web project featured the late great Pekar working with a number of artists and Remnant went on to draw Cleveland, a very personal graphic novel written by Pekar that was published after his death.

Remnant was making short work in his comic series Blindspot, in addition to recording music and working on various other projects, but Fantagraphics just released his first solo graphic novel, Cartoon Clouds. The book is about a group of students who have just graduated from art school, and are trying to find their own way and understand their feelings about art. Remnant admits that working on the project over the course of many years has meant that his own feelings about the characters and some of the issues he raises in the book have changed over time, though his linework is masterful throughout.

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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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