Legal | In the aftermath of last month’s ruling that DC Comics retains full rights to Superman, the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are urging federal judge to dismiss claims that their lawyer interfered with the publisher’s copyright to the character. DC sued attorney Marc Toberoff in May 2010, accusing him impeding a 1992 copyright agreement with the heirs by striking overriding deals with them in 2001 and 2003. The families insist the publisher filed its claims two years too late, as the statute of limitations expired in 2008. [Law360]
Webcomics | Malicious hackers hit the Blind Ferret servers last week, and they didn’t just wipe out the websites that host Least I Could Do, Girls with Slingshots and other high-profile webcomics — they also wiped out the backups. Gary Tyrell has the story and advises creators to have multiple backups in multiple locations. [Fleen]
Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]
Could Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates finally be getting their due in North America?
They’re the stars of Eiichiro Oda’s long-running comedy-adventure One Piece, Japan’s best-selling manga that’s sold more than 176 million volumes since its debut in 1997. (Publisher Shueisha printed more than 3 million copies of the series’ 57th volume alone.) On this side of the Pacific, however, the series hasn’t been nearly as popular, overshadowed by the likes of Naruto, Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist.
But this week, undoubtedly aided by Viz Media’s accelerated release schedule, One Piece lands five volumes on The New York Times’ Graphic Books bestseller list. (It’s probably worth noting that nine of the 10 spots in the manga category are filled by Viz Media releases.)
Yes, the 47th volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto still places higher on the chart than One Piece. And, yes, The New York Times’ bestseller lists employ an arcane formula that no one seems to understand (a complex combination of numerology, calculus and chanting within a magic circle, most likely).
Still, it just may be a sign that the tide is turning for the crew of the Going Merry — or is that Merry Go? — on the coasts of North America.
Legal | The attorney for Christopher Handley, the manga collector sentenced Feb. 11 to six months in prison on obscenity charges, has released a statement addressing the problem with the obscenity law, why his client thought his books were legal, and why he pleaded guilty.
“I know the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and others concerned about the defense of comic books specifically, and free speech generally, are upset that the case did not go to trial,” writes Eric Chase. “They are right to be. The Miller obscenity test is vague, indecipherable, and clearly chills protected speech. Among its most frightening aspects is that its ‘community standards’ element may allow ‘moral majority’ communities to dictate to the rest of us. The extortionate tool given to prosecutors through the receipt charge, with its mandatory minimum, gives incentive to defendants to not mount appropriate ‘community standards’ or ‘serious artistic value’ challenges. In defense of Chris Handley, given his choices, I suppose all I can do is ask: What would you have done?” [Anime News Network]
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What about when those pictures are juxtaposed with words — specifically the words of Incarnate creator Nick Simmons? And what if those words are denying that the pictures, which pretty clearly show that he plagiarized Tite Kubo’s hit manga Bleach, do any such thing? That’s worth an awful lot, as far as I’m concerned. At Topless Robot, Rob Bricken mashes up Simmons’ non-apology apology with the pictorial evidence to absolutely brutal effect. In a controversy that’s generated more than its fair share of memorable online commentary, this McCloudian approach has generated my favorite yet.