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Catwoman, from Johnny's Resin

Catwoman, from Johnny's Resin

Legal | DC Comics has sued a Florida man, accusing him of violating the company’s trademarks and copyrights by creating and selling unauthorized resin figurine kits based on characters from the 1960s Batman TV series.

John Stacks, owner of Johnny’s Resin, claims he has agreements with the actors represented by his figurines. DC Comics, which filed the lawsuit on July 9, says that it repeatedly warned Stacks about the violations. The company seeks, among other things, the destruction of all unauthorized products, packaging and molds, three times Stacks’ profits from selling the figurines, and statutory damages ranging from $750 to $30,000 for each infringement.

Stacks has shut down his website, leaving only the message, “THIS SITE IS CLOSED AND NO LONGER PRODUCES ANY RESIN KITS OR ANY OTHER ITEMS!” [Tampa Bay Online, lawsuit]

Retailing | Bookstore sales fell 3 percent in May to $1.1 billion. [Publishers Weekly]

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award

Awards | The nominees have been announced for the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which will be presented during Comic-Con International. [ICv2.com]

Conventions | Kai-Ming Cha files a report on the first Asian American Comicon, held Saturday in New York City. [PW Comics Week]

Events | Here’s video of Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly restored home in Cleveland where Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman. [Meeks Mixed Media]

Events | Jim McLauchlin has photos from The Hero Initiative/Meltdown Comics farewell party for 100 Bullets, held Saturday in Los Angeles. [The Hero Initiative]

Comics | John Jackson Miller examines how graphic-novel pricing has changed over the past six years. [The Comichron]

Manga | Japan’s Kyoto Seika University will offer a graduate course for cartoonists and cartoon researchers beginning next year. [Japan Today]

Blackest Night #1

Blackest Night #1

Comics | DC’s Blackest Night miniseries, which debuts today, gets some mainstream-media attention — with a spoiler or two. “Death is pretty horrific, and the metaphor of the entire series is rooted in that,” says writer Geoff Johns. “This is a very personal story for me.” [New York Daily News]

Comics | Speaking of DC, the serialization of the Superman strip from Wednesday Comics continues on USA Today’s website. [USA Today]

Creators | Christopher Irving profiles cartoonist Jules Feiffer. [Graphic NYC]

Creators | Warren Ellis posts “the bones of the talk” he gave about comics last month at Dundee University: “When done right, comics are a cognitive whetstone, providing two or three or more different but entangled streams of information in a single panel. Processing what you’re being shown, along with what’s being said, along with what you’re being told, in conjunction with the shifting multiple velocities of imaginary time, and the action of the space between panels that Scott McCloud defines as closure. … Comics require a little more of your brain than other visual media. They should just hand them out to being to stave off Alzheimer’s.” [Warren Ellis]

The Last Resort #1

The Last Resort #1

Creators | Jimmy Palmiotti discusses The Last Resort, his new series from IDW Publishing. [Cinematical]

Process | Artist Paolo Rivera even dons a Spider-Man mask when posing for reference shots. That’s dedication to the craft. [The Self-Absorbing Man]

Blogosphere | Happy fifth “blogoversary” to both Joe McCulloch and Tom Bondurant. [Jog the Blog, Comics Ate My Brain]

Humor | Shannon Cronin’s five steps for becoming a successful comic-book writer. [Shannon Cronin]

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Comments

19 Comments

Sucks for John Stacks. Those resin pieces sure look cool. maybe DC Direct should cut him a deal and get him to work for them

Perhaps Johns should deal with this death issues through counseling, rather than through comic books that star children’s cartoon characters.

David Hackett

July 15, 2009 at 8:49 am

That’s hard for John Stacks, as it looks like he does good work, but really, DC has no choice but to vigorously defend any trademark or copyright infringement, lest there be precedent set. How hard (i.e how much) would it have been to license the images, I wonder?

erm it’s not Looney Tunes: Blackest Night, you know…

How about DC cuts the puppet string from it’s corporate lawyer and HIRE John Stacks! 60s Batman statues/toys are long over due, and it looks like someone has done half the work already!

Lobstah Johnson

July 15, 2009 at 9:27 am

Grow Up Irwin, children who deal with death do. Death is something we all have to deal with sooner or later. Grand-parents, parents, siblings, friends pets. None of them last forever. It’s a perfectly suitable topic to write about.

Great work by John Stacks, but if DC is buring him, why not all of those people that sell custom action figures on Ebay? They’re making money off of Marvel and DC properties.

People suggesting DC hire Stacks are the same idiots who think DC should hire pirate scanners to do digital distro.

“Grow Up Irwin, children who deal with death do. Death is something we all have to deal with sooner or later. Grand-parents, parents, siblings, friends pets. None of them last forever. It’s a perfectly suitable topic to write about.”

Yes, I remember how upsetting it was when Grandma’s head was punched off and viscera was strewn all over her sitting room. Or when Uncle Earl had someone poke their fingers through his eyes, into his brain, and out the back of his head. THAT was a bear to clean up, lemme tell ya.

The exact same model of catwoman is being sold on ebay right now. Look up catwoman kit. Don’t know for how long, because I just reported it, but Ebay rarely does anything about reported items.

Unfortunately, DC missed an opportunity. Instead of knee-jerk defending their copyright (which they are obligated to do), they could have taken a second path and worked with Mr. Stacks in a manner that might have…wait for it…benefitted both of them.

There’s probably time to fix that, but only if the inclination is there.

re: John Stacks – if DC would acknowledge the popularity of the Batman TV show, instead of pretending it never happened, fans would have some nice, authorized versions of these. The Batgirl and Catwoman were excellent! I would buy a reasonably priced line of these.

re: Geoff Johns – I’m with Irwin. Batman, Green Lantern, et al are children’s comic book characters and stories should be reasonably fit for younger readers. There are plenty of venues for adult-oriented material. The problem is that most creators can’t write a story that doesn’t involve tights and violence, but they want to tell everyone they are creating “adult” material, so they ratchet up the violence and T&A. To me, it’s the equivalent of having Archie characters snort coke and have abortions.

@Aaron: not really. John Stacks’ stuff looks like it requires skill to pull off. Digital pirating requires a scanner, if that.

>> if DC would acknowledge the popularity of the Batman TV show, instead of pretending it never happened >>

As I understand it, they don’t have the rights to it.

They can’t make a deal to allow someone to do statues of Julie Newmar as Catwoman, because those rights are tangled up between Fox, Warner Bros. and DC (and presumably Newmar), and DC can’t just straighten it out by sheer will. They can’t produce Batman TV-show-related stuff themselves, either, without getting sued by Fox.

But they also can’t allow other people to make unlicensed Catwoman statues without harming their own trademark, whether those statues look like Newmar or not.

It’s not that DC is “pretending [the Batman show] never happened,” it’s that the rights are tangled up among larger companies that haven’t reached an agreement that would allow DC to do anything with that material.

That’s why (I assume) the new King Tut in BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL isn’t a thing like the TV character. King Tut is a historical figure and thus in the public domain, but the King Tut from the Batman TV show is tangled up in a rights dispute. So they can base a character on the historical Tut, but not on the Victor Buono Tut.

kdb

Considering that Fox owns the rights to the 60’s Batman TV series, the situation may be a lot more complicated than just hiring John Stacks or allowing him to keep on keeping on.

Aaron Poehler
July 15, 2009 at 9:30 am
“People suggesting DC hire Stacks are the same idiots who think DC should hire pirate scanners to do digital distro.”

No need to be rude, double-A. Certainly, one thing doesn’t have anything to do with the other. If DC wanted to jump into the digital distribution wagon, I’m pretty sure they’d do it themselves and wouldn’t need to re-scan the comics they already have in high-quality digital format.
And Stacks’ work, even if illegal, looks really damn good. I didn’t know about that copyright knot that Kurt talked about, but if once solved, I’d trow my money at some official Stacks’ statue.

To be clear-

Copyright does not have to be defended. If you let an individual infraction lapse for a certain time after learning about it, you lose the right to sue for that particular infraction, but the copyright remains yours. It’s the reason fanfic and the like is allowed to exist- it’s at the company’s discretion and some cases aren’t worth pursuing.

Trademarks are what you have to defend vigorously or lose, and this is where it can get confusing because to an extent the images and insignia of many DC characters are trademarked.

How is making resin statutes and selling them different from someone selling commissioned artwork of copyrighted characters? I’m not defending the guy, I’m genuinely curious.

Thanks everyone..Johnny

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