A tale of two Sleepers

A recent graphic novel published by Simon & Schuster is in the spotlight for using the same title as a DC/Wildstorm comic.

Variety is reporting that Warner Bros. is considering legal action against the creators of a recent graphic novel called Sleeper.

Jed Mercurio, the showrunner for a British TV show called Line of Duty, co-wrote Sleeper with Prasanna Puwanarajah, an actor he’s worked with before. Coke Navarro drew the project. The problem, of course, is that the title “Sleeper” is already taken — Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips used it back in the 2000s for a series about the Wildstorm hero Grifter that was published by DC Comics.

“Somehow no one in the entire comics industry had heard about this book of his until it was already at the printer,” Brubaker said about Mercurio’s graphic novel in his email newsletter. “Needless to say, WB owns the copyright and trademark to Sleeper as a series of graphic novels (and TV and film, I believe) and obviously they were more than concerned. So from what I understand there are a lot of legal things happening with them and the other publisher right now.”

Sleeper

Mercurio’s Sleeper is about a 24th century deep-space law-enforcement marshal; you can read more about it here. It was published Aug. 5 by Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint and is billed as the first in a series.

“For my part, I’m just pissed about it,” Brubaker continued in his newsletter. “When you come up with the title for a series of graphic novels or comics, the very first thing you should do is search Google or Amazon to see if there’s already one in existence. Single book titles cannot be trademarked but a series title can be (trademark law is complicated) and so as a creator, you really need to do some due diligence. I not only check when I’m titling a series, but also when I’m doing a one-off book, just because I don’t want another GN with the same title as ours, to avoid confusion and because it’s the right thing to do. What you never want to have happen is find out right as you’re going to press that one of the biggest media companies in the world already has a series with the exact same title.”

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