Comics Lowdown: Can Disney stop cops from using the Punisher symbol?

Plus: News on Al Jaffe, Uncivilized Books, awards and more.

With police brutality once again in the public eye, many fans on social media have called out Disney/Marvel to put their litigious muscles to work and prevent cops from using the Punisher logo — a popular emblem with some members of law enforcement, despite the fact that Frank Castle is a criminal and a killer.

First, you can find some history of both the character and its popularity with police here. That piece’s writer, Brian Cronin, is not only a contributor to CBR, but also a lawyer, and he offers his thoughts on why he doesn’t think Disney would have much success in an article titled “There’s Not Much Marvel Can Do About Cops Using Punisher’s Logo.” Cronin writes:

The key problem with enforcing the use of the trademark with police officers, though, is found in the word trademark itself. A trademark, simply put, is a mark that is used in trade. This means that the intellectual property is being used in commerce. If the intellectual property is not being used in commerce, there is not a whole lot that the owners of the trademark can do about people using the trademark.

Cronin does say that Disney could crack down on unlicensed merchandise. At Den of Geek, Jim Dandy hits this point even harder, noting the results of a simple Amazon search that bring up a similar bootleg attempt to relate the Punisher to a politician:

As of this writing, there are more than 2,000 results for “trump punisher” on Amazon, many of them shirts with President Trump’s signature hair piece over the Punisher logo. These shirts are the Thin Blue Punisher shirts for people who believe a pizza place without a basement was hiding a child sex trafficking ring in its basement.

Meanwhile, over at AIPT — Adventures in Poor Taste — Nick Nafpliotis also dives into the merchandising aspect, calling out several companies selling bootleg “Thin Blue Line” versions of the Punisher logo on pins, shirts and more.

As for Marvel, they told io9 that they are “taking seriously” any unlicensed use of its imagery by officers. If that means something is happening behind the scenes, time will tell — legal actions by large companies can move slowly.

Retirement: Al Jaffe, the legendary MAD contributor and “the longest-working comic artist ever,” will officially retire at the age of 99. Jaffe has been working in comics since World War II, and will be the subject of a tribute issue of MAD. Jaffe is probably best known for the “fold in” comics he created for the magazine — he’s created more than 500 of them during this career. Sergio Aragones pays tribute to Jaffe in a series of comics, seen above.

Legal: Cody Pickrodt’s lawsuit against Whitney Taylor, Hazel Newlevant and Morgan Pielli has been settled, with all the parties still involved issuing a statement:

Publishers: Tom Kaczynski, publisher of Minneapolis-based Uncivilized Books, gives an update on their current situation and how the riots, among other events, have affected their business.

Conventions: Joining the very long list of events either cancelled or going virtual this year due to the coronavirus, the Small Press Expo has announced that the 2020 event is cancelled. They still plan to give out the 2020 Ignatz Awards, however, and the ceremony will be live-streamed on Sept. 12.

Industry: Rob Salkowitz looks at the DC/Diamond situation from two different angles, giving “the argument for hope” and “the case for fear.”

Interviews: Kevin Mutch, creator of The Rough Pearl, talks to Boing Boing about the autobiographical fantasy.

Digital Comics: This one’s a little old now but still very interesting: Writing for The Beat, Matt O’Keefe answers the question “Whatever happened to Infinite Comics?” a digital comics format that was popular for a time but seems to have died out.

Publishers: Johanna Draper Carlson provides a history of DC’s Minx imprint, their attempt to cater to a female audience that started out with very few female creative voices.

Lists: The CBC shares “35 books to read for National Indigenous History Month,” which includes the comics anthology This Place.

Retailers: Brave New World Comics in Newhall, California was recognized for their work to gather “thousands of books from Santa Clarita residents to donate to The Book Truck, a nonprofit charity that helps deliver free books to children and teenagers in need.”


It has been a while since we’ve done one of these round-ups, so some of these awards go back a ways.

Pulitizer Prize: Barry Blitt has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning this year. Finalists in the category this year included Kevin Kallaugher, Lalo Alcaraz and Matt Bors.

Bram Stoker Awards: The Bram Stoker Awards presented their annual awards in April, recognizing Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran for “Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel.”

The Ippys: The 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards gave out awards in more than 80 categories. I Know What I Am: The Life and Times of Artemisia Gentileschi by Gina Siciliano, publsihed by Fantagraphics, took home the Gold in the Graphic Novel/Drawn Book category.

Trillium Book Awards: Ontario’s Trillium Book Award short list includes the graphic novel Clyde Fans: A Picture Novel by Seth. The winners will be announced at an online event on June 17.

Big Other Book Awards: Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass, which was translated by Janet Hong and published by Drawn and Quarterly, has won a “Big Other” Book Award in the “Graphic Novel” category.

Locus Awards: Charles Vess has once again been nominated for a Locus Award in the “Artist” category, while Bill Sienkiewicz’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, H.G. Wells from Beehive Books has been nominated in the “Illustrated or Art Book” category.

Lambda Literary Award: Arsenal Pulp Press publisher Brian Lam has been named the 2020 recipient of Lambda Literary’s Publishing Professional Award.

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