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.
Continue reading “Comics Lowdown: Who created Batman?”
Plus: The Cartoon Art Museum gets a new home, the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes the largest X-Men collection, and much more!
The manga world was rocked on Tuesday when Rurouni Kenshin creator Nobuhiro Watsuki was charged with possession of child pornography. Police didn’t target the 47-year-old manga-ka; they were investigating someone else when he turned up as a possible purchaser of child porn, and indeed he has been charged with possessions of “numerous” DVDs containing footage of nude girls in their early teens. In a deposition, Watsuki, stated that he “liked girls in late elementary school to around the second year of middle school.”
The penalty for possession of child pornography in Japan is up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 1 million yen, if convicted, but for Watsuki the consequences are already grave: His publisher, Shueisha, said it is taking the news very seriously and it has suspended his current series, Rurouni Kenshin: Hokkaido Arc, which he is co-creating with his wife, Kaoru Kurosaki; it has not decided yet what to do about the volumes that are already in print. Rurouni Kenshin started in 1994 and has over 60 million volumes in print; Viz has the U.S. license and has been re-releasing the original series in omnibus format, and is publishing the Hokkaido Arc simultaneously with the Japanese release.
Continue reading “Comics Lowdown: ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ creator arrested on child porn charges”
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.)
Continue reading “Feels good, man: ‘Pepe’ creator serves notice on copyright infringers”
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.
Continue reading “Creator of ‘Pepe’ book admits plagiarism, must donate profits to civil rights group”
Plus: assistant principal fired for Pepe the Frog book, new Madefire/DC Comics digital deal, and the hunt for H. G. Peter photos
When Graham Jules (pictured above) wrote his book, Business Zero to Superhero, he had no idea he would end up in a battle against the two largest comic publishers in the world. When his book was about to be published in 2014, he received a letter from Marvel and DC Comics claiming the word infringed on their jointly owned trademark since 1979. Jules, who also studies law, decided to represent himself in the case. A two-and-a-half year legal case ensued and this week, the two comic giants decided to drop the case for “commercial reasons.” The entrepreneur estimates that he spent a total of £200 and 200 hours in writing letters.
“This is an amazing result. It shows that even the little guy can achieve something with determination.”
It will not be surprising if his next book is about being a superhero of trademark cases.
Continue reading “Comics Lowdown: Businessman wins against Marvel, DC Comics to use the word ‘superhero’”
Matt Furie attempts to #SavePepe with a new crowdfunded comic about the stoned frog who was hijacked by white supremacists.
The Associated Press reports that Pepe the Frog, like all good comic book characters, is returning from the grave.
Pepe’s redemption will come via Kickstarter, where creator Matt Furie and his brother Jason are attempting to raise money “to positively resurrect Pepe through the creation of a brand new comic in the spirit of the original Boy’s Club.” Per the AP story, Matt’s attorney, Kimberly Motley, is exploring possible litigation against those profiting off Pepe’s image without Furie’s permission.
Pepe the Frog debuted in 2006 as part of the Boy’s Club ensemble, appearing on MySpace and in comics published by Buenaventura Press. Later his chill nature became the subject of many memes. In 2015, the white supremacists in the far right “alt.right” movement co-opted Pepe for their own white nationalism campaigns, leading to the Anti-Defamation League branding him as a hate symbol in 2016. Furie killed Pepe off on Free Comic Book Day earlier this year. Since then, the ADL has worked with Matt Furie to help #SavePepe.
Continue reading “Help ‘shine a light in all this darkness’ by resurrecting Pepe the Frog”