Legal | The lawyer for Jack Kirby’s heirs asked the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to overturn a 2011 ruling that Marvel owns the copyrights to the characters the late artist co-created for the publisher, arguing that a federal judge misinterpreted the law. Attorney Marc Toberoff, who also represents the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their fight against DC Comics, told a three-judge panel that a freelancer who gets paid only when a publisher likes his work is not, under copyright law, performing work for hire. Marvel countered that Stan Lee’s testimony established Kirby drew the contested works at the publisher’s behest; the Kirby family insists the lower court gave too much credence to Lee’s testimony. Kirby’s children filed 45 notices in 2009 in a bid to terminate their father’s assignment of copyright to characters ranging from the Fantastic Four and the Avengers to Thor and Iron Man under a provision of the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act. However, in July 2011, a judge determined those comics created between 1958 and 1963 were work made for hire and therefore ineligible for copyright termination. [Law360.com]
Samurai Chef is an Indiegogo project that aims to create a comic based on a fake TV show.
That’s a little confusing, but bear with me. Mayamada is a T-shirt company started by a couple of self-described IT geeks. After some experiments that didn’t go too well, they decided their T-shirts would feature characters from anime-inspired shows on a fantasy television network. The key with something like this is coming up with a good hook for the shows, and once you have done that, you might as well do something more with it, right? That’s the sort of thinking that gave us Battlepug, after all — that Eisner award-winning webcomic started out as a T-shirt design as well.
Samurai Chef is a parody of Iron Chef featuring a monkey with a sword. Contestants vie to make dishes that will not so much taste delicious as withstand the destructive power of the host. And then an elite team of top chefs, who have been watching from a distance, come flying in on live TV to take over the competition with their own signature dishes — which come to life.
It’s a great concept for a comic, and the artwork by British artist Pinali sells it. That’s the upside of basing a comic on a T-shirt design — you start with good art. The creators have reached their funding goal, but the campaign goes on until August 29, so it’s worth stopping by and checking it out.
And maybe if the comic takes off, it will become a real animated cartoon some day.
Check out the preview page below.
Creators | Following the appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor and the cameo by Thanos in The Avengers, Marvel appears poised to expand the cosmic elements of its cinematic universe with The Guardians of the Galaxy. While some fans eagerly await a movie announcement next week at Comic-Con International, Thanos creator Jim Starlin (who had to buy his own tickets to Thor and The Avengers) may be laying the groundwork for a legal challenge: Heidi MacDonald points out that Starlin has posted an early drawing of the Mad Titan on his Facebook page, writing, “This is probably one of the first concept drawings of Thanos I ever did, long before I started working at Marvel. Jack Kirby’s Metron is clearly the more dominant influence in this character’s look. Not Darkseid. Both D and T started off much smaller than they eventually became. This was one of the drawings I had in my portfolio when I was hired by Marvel. It was later inked by Rich Buckler.” [The Beat]
Comics | Tim Marchman, author of that much-discussed Wall Street Journal article, is at it again, this time interviewing Watchmen editor Len Wein about his work on Before Watchmen, and including the interventions of DC Comics Publicity Manager Pamela Mullin as part of the story. Between the embargo on the comic and Mullin doing her job, it sounds like the most interesting parts of the interview never made it into the final product. [The Daily Beast]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I (only) had $15, I’d first pick up Creator Owned Heroes #2 (Image, $3.99). This format is something I revel in, and it doesn’t hurt to have good comics like those from Palmiotti, Gray, Noto, Niles and Mellon. After that I’d get the long-awaited Infernal Man-Thing #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I only found out about this delayed-’80s series in the early 2000s, but I had the chance to speak to Kevin Nowlan about a year back and we talked at length about the book. He showed me some art and I was sold. Third on my list would be Invincible #93 (Image, $2.99). The Walking Dead might be getting all the attention, but if I had to chose between all of the books Kirkman’s written it’d easily be Invincible. He and artists Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley continue to bring their A-game here, and this new format with Ottley and Walker trading pages is great. With the last bit of my $15 I’d pick up Avengers Vs. X-Men #7 (Marvel, $3.99). This has easily become one of the greatest event series since Civil War, and the last issue in particular sold it with the twin stylings of Jonathan Hickman and Olivier Coipel. You might say I have diminished thresholds when it comes to event series, but I see it as a different kind of comic than, I don’t know, Dan Clowes or something. It’s its own thing, and in this case it’s very good at it.
If I had $30, I’d get Mike Norton’s Battlepug HC (Dark Horse, $14.99). Call me a fool for buying a free webcomic in trade, but I missed the boat when this was coming out online. Norton has won me over with his work through the years and I have no problem shelling out $15 bucks to see it in this hardcover format – even if I’m not a dog person.
And for splurging, I’d get Ed Piskor’s Wizzywig HC (Top Shelf, $19.95). This is exactly the kind of book that fits in my wheelhouse, but like Battlepug I missed out on this when it was first published. Like some sort of Hackers movie done right (sorry Angelina!), I want to learn more about this and eschew my status as a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.
Conventions | WonderCon was held in Anaheim, California, this year because the traditional venue, San Francisco’s Moscone Center, was closed for renovations. Heidi MacDonald wonders whether the shift will be permanent, and a lively debate ensues in comments. SFBay, meanwhile, informally surveyed exhibitors, and found many retailers saw a steep drop in sales from last year, while many artists saw an increase in revenue. [The Beat]
Retailing | ICv2 sees an uptick in manga sales in comics stores and speculates that the Borders bankruptcy has led readers to a variety of different channels, including the direct market, which could be an opportunity for comics stores to expand their customer base. [ICv2]
Digital comics | Digital distributor comiXology will offer HD versions of all its comics for readers who use the new third-generation iPad, and Jason Snell says the new retina display and the HD comics make for a much better reading experience. [Macworld UK]
It was, gee, just about a year ago when we posted the news that Mike Norton was turning his Conan-meets-canine T-shirt design Battlepug into a webcomic. It’s been a great year for the comic, which uses the framing tale of a naked lady telling a bedtime story to her two dogs as a starting point for a hilariously imaginative tale of a warrior bent on revenge and his two traveling companions, a lunatic and a giant pug. It’s completely incongruous, but it also makes perfect sense, in a weird sort of way: Norton didn’t just throw together a couple of disparate elements, he integrated them into a real story, using the tropes of fantasy literature but pitting his hero against cute characters gone bad, including a giant baby seal, gophers who unite to form a mega-gopher, and an evil Santa figure. A parody would have worn thin pretty quickly; with Battlepug, you keep reading just to see what crazy creature Norton is going to come up with next.
And now it’s coming to print: Dark Horse announced yesterday that they are collecting the story into a print edition, with volume 1 due on July 4. That’s pretty much it for details, but as Norton says, “When I first made the Battlepug T-shirt, people kept asking when the comic was coming out. So, I put out the webcomic and now everybody wants to know when the book is coming out! I guess now people will want to know when the movie is happening?” Not soon enough, Mike. Not soon enough.
Battlepug: The Web Comic was born out of desperate scramble to appease iFanboy. They contacted Mike to create a signature t-shirt for a new line of merch. However, Mike had been working exclusively with DC Comics for 4 years and had no original properties that he could reveal to the world yet. He drew the image you see above and had Allen color it. And lo, a BATTLEPUG was born!
That’s Allen Passalaqua, who is doing the coloring. Over at iFanboy itself, Paul Montgomery posts his version of the story and a larger version of the art.