Comics Lowdown: Who owns Atlas Comics?

Plus: Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award recipients, Paige Braddock, Frank Santoro, Dr. Gene Luen Yang and more!

Who exactly owns Atlas Comics? That seems to be the question raised in two articles from The Hollywood Reporter. Earlier this month Steven Paul, producer of the Ghost Rider film, announced via a press conference that he had bought the rights to the Atlas Comics and planned to work with Paramount to turn the properties into movies. Not so fast, said Dynamite Entertainment, who followed up by telling THR that they own the name “Atlas Comics.”

Many of you may be wondering “What the heck was Atlas Comics?” while others might be thinking, “Wait, wasn’t Atlas the company that eventually evolved into Marvel Comics in the 1960s?” And still others are wondering, “Didn’t he learn his lesson after Ghost Rider?”

But getting back to Atlas, yes, there was an Atlas Comics in the 1950s that grew out of Timely Comics and eventually became Marvel Comics. It was owned by publisher Martin Goodman, and it put out comics in a variety of genres like horror, crime, espionage and even a few superhero titles featuring characters like Captain America and the Human Torch, who had previously been published under the Timely banner. However, this isn’t that Atlas Comics.

No, this Atlas Comics is the one that’s sometimes referred to as Atlas/Seaboard, and was active in the 1970s. The line was called Atlas Comics and was published by Seaboard Periodicals. Seaboard was created by Goodman after he sold Marvel in 1968 and then left the company in 1972. Comics they published included Planet of Vampires, Phoenix, Tiger-Man, The Scorpion and The Brute, among others. I guess these are the titles you can expect to see at your local multiplex in the coming years. (Bleeding Cool reprinted a Twitter conversation between Gail Simone and Dan DiDio about Atlas that’s a fun read).

The Scorpion

During the press conference in Cannes announcing the Atlas acquisition, Paul said he acquired the stake from its owner Nemesis Group and principal Jason Goodman — grandson of Martin Goodman. What’s under question here is whether the Nemesis Group actually still owned the trademark to “Atlas Comics.” In the early 2000s, Jeffrey Steven acquired the trademark, which led to a court case between Nemesis and Steven. Steven won and then assigned the trademark to Dynamite.

Dynamite isn’t making a claim for the characters, just the name. In a statement, they said: “We have no clue why Martin Goodman, or anyone associated with him, feels that they can use the ‘Atlas Comics’ brand name. Any trademark rights the original Goodman’s Seaboard Publishing group may have owned in the ‘Atlas Comics’ name was abandoned decades ago. Because of that abandonment, the trademark ATLAS COMICS was adopted in 2002 by Jeffrey Stevens, who then registered the trademark in 2005, and Dynamite now owns all rights in the ATLAS COMICS trademark, having purchased it from Mr. Stevens in 2014. We have been actively using the mark ever since.”

Dynamite uses the name on a line of signed editions of their comics:

Finally, if you’re wondering how Marvel’s Agents of Atlas title fits in to all this, (it really doesn’t) the six original agents that appeared in that comic — Jimmy Woo, Namora, Venus, Marvel Boy, Gorilla-Man and the Human Robot — all appeared in comics published by the 1950s Atlas. Hence, the name.

The Biz

Oni/Lion Forge fallout: Oni Press Executive Editor Ari Yarwood has announced that she has left the publisher, for health reasons as well as because of their recent merger with Lion Forge. That merger has resulted in many layoffs at both companies, with some of those impacted saying that their severance pay was tied to a non-disparagement agreement.

As Brett Schenker notes at Graphic Policy: “While many rightly pointed out those fired were women, queer, disabled, and people of color, they are also human beings with bills to pay and medical expenses to cover. They need our help in the short term and jobs in the long term.”

Partnerships: NetEase, a leading internet and online game provider in China, has partnered with Marvel to “collaborate to create original entertainment content” based on Marvel’s characters, including comics and video games.

Publishing: Video game company Square Enix has announced plans to start their own English-language manga, novels, and art books this fall. Penguin Random House will distribute their titles.

People: Ailen Lujo has left DC Comics for Humanoids, where she’ll be their sales & marketing director. Harley Salbacka has been promoted to sales representative, while Andrea Torres has joined as sales and marketing assistant.

Bankruptcy: F+W Media, the parent company that bought Comics Buyer’s Guide owner Krause Publications in 2002, has declared bankruptcy.

Events: Writing for the Washington Post, Michael Cavna reports on this year’s NCS Fest and its “improved representation” of women

Creators + Interviews

Paige’s World: Our own Alex Dueben talks to Paige Braddock about a number of topics, including the origins of her career in comics and the long-running (but now ended) Jane’s World.

Awards

Giving back: Comic-Con International has named the 2019 recipients of the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, which will be presented in San Diego in July. The first is Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, for his work on Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico, an anthology that has raised $200,000 to benefit Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria. And the second is comic artist Tula Lotay, whose real name is Lisa Wood, for creating the UK based Thought Bubble Festival.

Awards: Artist Amanda Conner has been recognized with the 2019 Joe Kubert Distinguished Storyteller Award.

Awards: Two Marvel books written by Nnedi Okorafor, Black Panther: Long Live the King and Shuri, have been nominated for 2019 Nommo Awards by the African Speculative Fiction Society.

That’s “Dr. Yang” to you: New Superman and American Born Chinese writer Gene Luen Yang received an honorary doctorate degree from Cal State East Bay last Sunday.

Commentary

More “appreciation” than review: Tom Spurgeon has an early look at Frank Santoro’s Pittsburgh, which is due out in the fall.

Recommendations: Michele Kirichanskaya recommends 12  LGBTQ+ webcomics at The Mary Sue.

Reviews: Tegan O’Neil reviews Maia Kobabe and Phoebe Kobabe’s Gender Queer over at The Comics Journal.

Reviews: Caitlin Rosberg takes a look at Evan Dahm’s Island Book.

Asian Heritage Month: The CBC celebrates Asian Heritage Month by listing “17 Canadian books to read for Asian Heritage Month,” including Leaving Richard’s Valley by Michael DeForge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.