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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Religious police shut down Libya Comic Con

Police arrested “anyone with a badge” for corrupting youth, importing foreign influences, and inciting violence.

The Rada Special Deterrence Force (SDF), a religious police force that acts for the UN-backed Libyan government, raided the Libya Comic Con on Friday evening, shutting down the convention and arresting the organizers as well as participants.

“Anyone who was wearing a badge” was arrested, according to an account by one of the organizers, who asked to be anonymous, in the Libya Herald. Apparently the police assumed that anyone wearing a badge was an organizer, so participants and visitors were scooped up in the raid. While some of those arrested were released later that night, six members of the organizing committee remained in custody on Saturday. The organizer said that the police had beaten and shaved the heads of some of the attendees who were released, as well as giving them a religious lecture. “They were told that Libya was a Muslim country, not a free/liberal country,” he said.

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Comics Lowdown: Political cartoonist arrested

Plus: IDW stumbles, SyFy makes a list, and Darryl Cunningham draws another science comic.

Political Cartoonist Arrested: Government authorities in the African country of Equatorial Guinea arrested political cartoonist Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé on September 16 and are reportedly preparing criminal defamation charges against him, according to Human Rights Watch. Equatorial Guinea’s defamation law, which dates back to its days as a Spanish colony, makes it a crime to criticize the president or other government officials. Ebalé, who no longer lives in Equatorial Guinea but was visiting to renew his passport, frequently caricatures President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo; he visited the U.S. in 2016 to distribute his book, Obi’s Nightmare, which imagines what the president’s life would be like if he had to live as an ordinary person in his country.

25 of the Best: The SyFy folks have done the research (presumably!) and come up with a list of the 25 best comics writers of the past 25 years. If nothing else, this gives everyone something to argue about!

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Feels good, man: ‘Pepe’ creator serves notice on copyright infringers

Matt Furie unleashes lawyers against the “Alt-Right” use of the cartoon frog.

Matt Furie is taking back Pepe the Frog—and he’s not holding back. Last month, the creator of the cartoon frog sent his lawyers after Eric Hauser, who had used Pepe as one of the lead characters in a painfully Islamophobic children’s book, and now those same lawyers have issued a flurry of cease-and-desist letters and DMCA takedown requests to other copyright infringers and those who host them.

Matthew Gault reports on Motherboard that cease and desist orders have been sent to Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, Tim Gionet (a.k.a. “Baked Alaska”), and the r/the_Donald subreddit. The C&D letters explicitly state that the next step will be to hit the infringers in the wallet:

Furie’s legal team makes clear that Furie plans to ask Spencer, Cernovich, and Baked Alaska for money in addition to demanding they stop using Pepe’s image: “After we have received confirmation that you have ceased infringement, we will contact you to discuss what additional information we need from you to calculate the appropriate amount of damages,” the letters read.

Furie’s legal team has also issued DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown requests to Amazon, Google Play, and Reddit, naming specific pages that host infringing images. Gionet’s book Meme Magic: Secrets Revealed, which has Pepe on its cover, is no longer available on Amazon, and Google Play has dropped his app Build the Wall: The Game. (Apple has already banned Pepe from its App Store.)

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Creator of ‘Pepe’ book admits plagiarism, must donate profits to civil rights group

Publisher: “It’s unfortunate that an educator who has written a book that uplifts the virtues of truth and honesty has received such scrutiny.”

Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie has stopped the publication of an Islamophobic children’s book based on his cartoon, and as part of the settlement, the author, Eric Hauser, must donate all profits to the Muslim-American civil rights advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Pepe the Frog, lest we forget, was not designed to be a children’s character at all; the anthropomorphized amphibian was a character in Furie’s Boy’s Club comic, a laid-back slacker who smoked a lot of weed and pulled his pants all the way down to pee. The frog became an internet meme and either was picked up by the alt-right as a symbol of hate or was used by pranksters to convince a gullible media that it had been picked up by the alt-right as a symbol of hate—look, it’s a rabbit hole, OK?

Furie tried to reclaim his character by killing Pepe off and then crowdfunding a new Pepe book, but in the meantime, Eric Hauser was hard at work, making Pepe the hero of his self-published children’s book, The Adventures of Pepe and Pede.

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Dwayne McDuffie’s widow files lawsuit over Milestone Media

Charlotte McDuffie files a lawsuit against Reginald Hudlin, Derek Dingle and Denys Cowan, claiming they’ve cut McDuffie’s estate out of the planned Milestone revival.

Charlotte McDuffie, widow of Dwayne McDuffie, has filed a lawsuit against Reginald Hudlin, Derek Dingle and Denys Cowan, claiming McDuffie’s estate has been excluded from plans for a planned Milestone Media revival.

The suit, filed in L.A. Superior Court on Monday, claims that after Dwayne McDuffie passed away in 2011, “two of his former business partners thereafter conspired with a third person to obstruct McDuffie’s widow from accessing financial information about the business, and then cut out McDuffie’s estate from Milestone Media’s revival.” You can read the complaint in full here or find it embedded below.

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Comics Lowdown: Bookscan charts, female readers and the Big Two

Comics gets a wake-up call, Wonder Woman gets a long-lost brother and Ted Rall gets SLAPPed.

It’s like comics is going through its half-year review, and manga and kids’ graphic novels get high marks but Marvel and DC get a low “needs improvement.” Heidi MacDonald has a long but very readable article at The Beat summarizing what’s going on: Comics are thriving, but not monthly comics and not in comic shops:

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Comics Lowdown: Comic Con case heads to court showdown

Plus: classic Archie returns, Tom King, Black Panther and more.

Battle of the Cons: The court case between Comic-Con International (which runs the San Diego comic con) and Salt Lake Comic Con over CCI’s claim that it owns the term “comic con” moves into a crucial stage this week with two days of depositions today and tomorrow, followed by a settlement hearing before a judge on Thursday. That hearing will determine whether it all ends there or the case will go to trial in October. CCI owns the trademark to “comic-con” with a hyphen but the case is murkier for the unhyphenated version; Salt Lake Comic Con was allowed to trademark its name last year.

A panel from World of Wakanda

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Comics Lowdown: Armed man arrested at Phoenix Comicon

Plus news and updates on The Dark Knight III: The Master Race., comiXology’s Valiant High, Marissa Moss, These Machines Are Winning and more.

Police in Phoenix, Arizona, arrested 31-year-old Matthew Sterling at Phoenix Comicon on Thursday after being alerted that he was posting photos of police officers from inside the convention center and talking about harming the police. He told police he was the Punisher and could tell which police officers were good and which were bad.

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