Comics Lowdown: Businessman wins against Marvel, DC Comics to use  the word ‘superhero’

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.

Eric Hauser (Tailyr Irvine/Dallas News)

Maybe he can teach this guy about copyright: A middle school assistant principal in Texas has been removed from his position after writing a book featuring Pepe the Frog. Eric Hauser published The Adventures of Pepe and Pede on Amazon, which he confirmed has since been picked up by a publisher. Facing criticism, Hauser claimed that he wrote the book based on the meme to fill the void of conservative books for children. He denied knowledge that Pepe has since been appropriated by the white supremacist movement known as the “alt-right” and said he does not align himself with the alt-right. Yet, another character in the book, Pede, is a centipede. It is worth noting that many Trump supporters called themselves centipedes after a YouTube series of Republican debate footage being mashed up with footage of a centipede killing a tarantula, which is a far more obscure reference. Hauser didn’t want to discuss the plot points but said the following themes are reflected in the book: honesty, teamwork, being pro-American, nationalism, unity and truth. But apparently not copyright and trademark, as Pepe the Frog was created and is owned by someone else.

“Due to the controversy surrounding the book I have published, I think it’s best that I not serve as assistant principal at Rodriguez,” Hauser said in a statement released by the Denton Independent School District. “The students, the community, and the teachers are too important to me to subject them to all the negativity and disapproval resulting from this book. To my colleagues, I offer my deepest apologies if this has affected them or their families in any negative way.”

In May, Pepe the Frog was killed off by creator Matt Furie out of frustration that his comic turned into an extreme conservative white supremacist mascot. Then in June, Furie announced a Kickstarter campaign for Pepe the Frog to return as a symbol of peace, love and acceptance.

The Biz

Digital deals: Madefire gets a huge boost with DC Comics catalogue expanding their collection by more than 80,000 comics and motion books by 2018. Debuting this week is Dark Nights: Metal #1 and the catalog will expand with backlist and new release titles. Madefire is avalalble on iOS, Android, Windows, Apple TV and Android TV.


H.G. Peter (photographer: unknown, touched up by Todd Klein)

Searching for H.G. Peter: William Moulton Marston has almost become a household name in the last year, what with the success of Wonder Woman in theaters, but Wonder Woman artist H. G. Peter was as elusive in life as he is in death. Todd Klein tells the great story of how Jackie Estrada was searching for a photo of Peters to use for his Hall of Fame induction at the Eisner Awards, but alas, the internet saves the day. Alex Johnson saved a photo of Peters from an eBay auction which lead Estrada to the winner of the auction. The anonymous owner of the photo of young Harry George Peter agreed, and the photo was used for the Hall of Fame.

Flashback to the past: A very brief look at anti-Nazi comic art in American Comics.

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