Robot 6

Please please please let me kickstart what I want

Rubber Ring

I love that Shawn Demumbrum discovered The Smiths the same way I did: through the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. But more than that, I love that he’s put together a group of storytellers with a similar affection for the band who want to make an anthology based on its songs. There’s a Kickstarter campaign of course, but it’s already reached more than double its initial goal of $3000.

The plan is to have 13 stories answer this question about 13 songs: “What story plays in your head when you listen to your favorite Smiths song?”  According to the Kickstarter page, each creative team will make a 4-8 page story inspired by their favorites. Demumbrum writes that “The song acts as an inspiration, jumping off point, theme or mood for the story” and that “Each story varies in style and genre.”

The set list is:

“Death at One’s Elbow” by Glen Curren and Madame M
“Shoplifters of the World Unite” by Shawn Demumbrum and Matt Goodall
“Rubber Ring” by Dennmann
“Girlfriend in a Coma” by JP Manzanares
“Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” by Henry Barajas and Christian Vilaire
“Cemetry Gates” by Libbi Rich and Eric Schock
“That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” by Emily Rich and Jenn Fuguet
“How Soon is Now?” by Foo! and Sam Lagreen
“Pretty Girls Make Graves” by Thomas Healy and Justin Miller
“Panic” by Matthew Burke and Joshua Green
“What Difference Does It Make?” by Michael Kessler and Jeff Pina
“Handsome Devil” by Shelby Robertson
“Suffer Little Children” by John Chihak

Demumbrum hopes to debut the book at Tucson Comic-Con in November.

Update: Sterling Gates tweets that he’s also contributing a story to the book based on “William, It Was Really Nothing.”

News From Our Partners

Comments

7 Comments

Aaaaaaugh! I wanted to do something like this! Damn you, procrastination/day job/motherhood/writing!

There’s just one problem: It’s not approved by the Smiths, or Morrissey, or their record company. When you use someone’s likeness and intellectual property in a commercial fashion, you have to have them sign-off on a such a thing or you’re not legally entitled to use it unless it’s a parody or fair use. Heck, Morrissey is on one of their variant covers for Chrissakes!

Kickstarter could care less though. Hell, they let someone rip off the likeness and plot of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros for a comic book recently and still promoted it on their site. The book was not a parody. All they did was take the letters off Mario and Luigi’s hats.

Granted these books will probably not end up being published by anyone major, just distributed at cons or sold to friends and family, but just because you’re selling an indy comic doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want and make a buck off someone else’s property.

This is a great idea. The Smiths were great band, one of my favorites back in the day, and Morrisey’s songs are written in a way that leaves them open all kinds of interpretation.

@Anonymous . . .

Using a song as inspiration for a story (which has been done for as long as there have been songs and stories) is not an automatic violation of copyright. Someone writing a song about (for example) two lovers having a picnic in a cemetery and saying it was inspired by “Cemetery Gates” is not an inherent violation of Morrisey’s intellectual property rights because that idea, in and of itself, is not copyrightable. It could be potentially be a violation depending on how close to the specific details of the song the story hews, but I’d hope that most of the creators will be smart enough to avoid that.

As long as they don’t try to literally translate the song into a comic book story and don’t print the actual, copyrighted music or lyrics to the songs in the book/as part of the stories then there shouldn’t be any problem.

That may be fine and dandy. But the book ties pretty closely to the brand: The Smiths and Morrissey. That’s not fair use. And it’s directly stated it’s a tribute book, using the names of their Songs specifically and state the book is inspired by the band and the music. It’s part of the package. That’s a pretty direct correlation, other than say printing a generic story in a generic comic book and calling it “Hard Day’s Night” and mentioning it was inspired by the Beatles.

It probably wouldn’t have been too glaringly questionable if they hadn’t put Morrissey’s likeness on the cover of the book. You certainly can’t do that without his permission (unless he was dead) — not in a fictional book. It’s certainly not a biography style Bluewater book (which is how they get away with that crap.)

I guess if Morrissey finds out about it and he’s cool with it — more power to them. If he’s not, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Because I know for a fact that on-demand printing companies like Kablam won’t print something with this type of content or visual for that very same reason. (Of course, it looks like they’re printing it on their own. So that point is kind of moot.)

Believe me, if you put Gene Simmons or Lars Ulrich on that cover and did this type of book, they would sue your ass in a heartbeat. (And I happen to like Gene.)

“That may be fine and dandy. But the book ties pretty closely to the brand: The Smiths and Morrissey. That’s not fair use. And it’s directly stated it’s a tribute book, using the names of their Songs specifically and state the book is inspired by the band and the music. It’s part of the package. That’s a pretty direct correlation, other than say printing a generic story in a generic comic book and calling it “Hard Day’s Night” and mentioning it was inspired by the Beatles.”

And, as already noted, doing something that’s “inspired” by another work is not an inherent copyright infringement. It can be, but it’s not automatically so. And you can’t copyright the name of a song, in and of itself.

BTW, how do you know they haven’t gotten Morrisey’s permission?

You don’t know a lot about Fair Use. No offense. As someone who had to do something similar for a not so similar project, and contacted several IP attorneys to be sure, I’m dead certain I’m in the right here.

When something ties too closely to a brand, you can’t use it without permission. Period. The Smiths/Morrissey is a brand. Again, Morrissey himself is on the cover of this comic book.

What you’re essentially arguing is that someone can write a “Gears of War” tribute comic, with fictional stories named after each level, put Master Chief on the cover, and not be liable for copyright/trademark infringement when they sell it and make a profit off it. Well, that’s not how it works.

Had they not put Morrissey on the cover, then it would be an altogether different ballgame. But they didn’t do that. Look it up on their site.

And if they DID have Morrissey’s permission, I’m pretty sure that they would be screaming it from the mountain tops to help get pledges for their book. Don’t you?

What Anonymous is talking about Right of Publicity which may or may not be trumped by Fair Use for parody. The image of Morrissey is not a straight image for image sake. It’s a commentary on fan’s image that rock stars are superheroes in many people’s eye and take on legendary status. Oddly enough, fans in the UK who have seen the image have commented that he looks like Mark Almond from Soft Cell and a rugby player, so even the fact that the image is Morrissey is in question for some.

The stories are inspired by the song (Belle and Sebastian or Tori Amos’ Comic Tattoo). Only a few of the stories use actual lyrics and for those stories, we have applied for the print rights for lyrics use. For example, Sterling Gates’ story use the song title as dialog.

I hope this clears things up and I hope you’ll support our project. We have meet our goal, but if we hit $12k, we start production on Volume 2 with an eye toward creating stories for the entire Smith’s catalog. We already have writers and artists lined up including at least one DC Comics artist.

For all those interested, you can currently pledge through Kickstarter to secure a copy (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/756324374/unite-and-take-over-comic-stories-inspired-by-the). We won’t be able to solicit it through comic book and bookstore distributors until January, so pledging through Kickstarter is the only way to get your copy before the holiday season.

Leave a Comment

 


Browse the Robot 6 Archives