Quick Hits | Dilbert dropped from newspapers after Scott Adams’ racist rant on YouTube

Plus: Copyright office changes decision on AI comic, manga legend Leiji Matsumoto passes away, and news on Dan DiDio, Joseph Illidge and more.

Several newspapers, including those owned by Gannett and Advance Local, have pulled Dilbert by Scott Adams after the creator posted a racist rant on his YouTube channel. In the video, Adams referred to Black people as a “hate group” and encouraged white people to “get the hell away from Black people.”

“…this is a decision based on the principles of this news organization and the community we serve. We are not a home for those who espouse racism. We certainly do not want to provide them with financial support,” Chris Quinn, an editor for The Cleveland Plains Dealer, said. Other Advance Local papers in Michigan, Oregon and other states have followed suit.

USA Today, which is a Gannett paper, said in a tweet that “we lead with inclusion and strive to maintain a respectful and equitable environment for the diverse communities we serve nationwide,” and included an image that said they would no longer carry Dilbert.

Last year Dilbert and several other comic strips were pulled from newspapers owned by Lee Enterprises when the company cut costs and reorganized its comics pages.

Legal | Gizmodo reports that the United States Copyright Office has re-issued a ruling on a comic that contains illustrations created by the AI Midjourney. Regarding Kris Kashtanova’s comic book Zarya of the Dawn, the office said that Kashtanova “is the author of the Work’s text as well as the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the Work’s written and visual elements.” But apparently not the art itself, which was generated by putting prompts into the artificial intelligence program.

The office has initially issued a registration naming Kashtanova as the “sole author,” but in a subsequent letter said:

Soon after the Work was registered, the Office was contacted by a reporter in response to public statements you made regarding the creation of the Work. You stated that an artificial intelligence tool was used to create some or all of the content in the Work. This information was not provided to the Office in your application. Based on these comments, we have preliminarily concluded that the information in your application was incorrect or, at a minimum, substantively incomplete. Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 201.7(c)(4), by this letter, we are initiating cancellation of U.S. Copyright Office Registration VAu001480196 because by your own admission, you are not the sole author of the entire work and, at a minimum, the claim should have been limited to exclude non-human authorship.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund commented on the ruling on Twitter. Kashtanova is appealing the decision; you can read the letter sent by her attorney here. One of the prompts the attorney mentions Kasktanova using in Midjourney was “Zendaya leaving gates of Central Park.” Right of Publicity laws typically prohibit people from using a celebrity’s likeness without their permission — and Texas, where her attorney is based, has one such law.

Passings | Manga creator Leiji Matsumoto, whose real name was Akira Matsumoto, has died at the age of 85 from acute heart failure, the BBC reports. Matsumoto created several popular manga and anime series in his time, including Galaxy Express 999, Queen Emeraldas and Space Battleship Yamato — which was shown in the afternoons in the U.S. under the title Starblazers.

People | The Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group has named Sierra Hahn as its new editor-in-chief, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And according to ICv2, the company has also added comics retailer Michael Torma from Third Eye Comics to the team as senior sales manager and former Diamond Comic Distributors VP Bill Schanes as publishing consultant. They join Hunter Gorinson, who was named president and publisher in December, as the company continues to rebuild after upper management pretty much dismantled its entire structure last year.

People | Comics journalist and retailer Matthew Price, who has written about comics for The Oklahoman for more than 20 years, said goodbye to the newspaper this week. He’ll keep writing about comics on his Substack.

Interviews | Joseph Illidge is no longer with Heavy Metal, where he served as executive editor. He talks to Bleeding Cool about what happened and why he’s no longer with the publisher.

Interviews | The Comic Journal has an extensive interview with Dan DiDio, former DC executive and current publisher of Frank Miller Presents.

And part of me wanted to do something different. You know, I was getting extraordinarily frustrated at DC, not because of anything other than the fact that when you’re with the same company for so long, you’re doing the same thing over again. You feel like you’re repeating yourself; you’re constantly having to reinvent a wheel. And I can honestly tell you that when I first got there, all the stories I really wanted to tell were probably told within those first five or six years I was at DC. You know what I mean? And then ultimately, you have a job to do. So you got to keep it going. You got to keep it moving. And you’ve got to constantly reinvent yourself as you go on.

Features | Let’s end with something fun — here’s a piece by James Davis Nicoll for Tor.com on the Legion of Super-Heroes’ regular tryouts and the subsequent formation of the Legion of Substitute Heroes. Make sure to read the footnotes.

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