Conventions | Creative director Rico Renzi discusses HeroesCon, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend with a three-day event that’s experienced a spike in advance ticket sales: “Stan Lee’s attendance to this year’s show has definitely caused a spike in advance ticket sales from what I can tell. I honestly like the show at just the size it is; it’s just right. I used to hop on a bus from Baltimore to go the NYCC and I loved it for the first couple years. It just got too big for me too enjoy it, you couldn’t walk around without rubbing up against strangers. It’s a great alternative to San Diego now I guess. If you’re looking for a pure comic book show though, HeroesCon is where it’s at.” In addition to Lee, this year’s guests include Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Cliff Chiang, Frank Cho, Becky Cloonan, Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Evan Dorkin, Tommy Lee Edwards, Matt Fraction, Francesco Francavilla, Jaime Hernandez, Dave Johnson, Jeff Lemire, Paul Levitz, Mike Mignola, George Perez, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Scott Snyder and Bernie Wrightson. [The Comics Reporter]
Legal | Danny Bradbury takes a look at the financial and copyright aspects of online comics in an insightful article spurred by the recent dust-up between The Oatmeal and FunnyJunk. Among other things, he parses out how The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman makes $500,000 a year from his comic, why Inman and other creators object to their work being published elsewhere without attribution (and why they sometimes don’t care), the legal protections they can use (and how they sometimes fail), and how sites like Pinterest avoid the problem. There’s also an explanation of why FunnyJunk attorney Charles Carreon is suing Inman et al. on his own behalf, rather than FunnyJunk’s: “Carreon has now effectively abandoned the threat of a FunnyJunk lawsuit, stating that he was misinformed by his client. His letter claimed that all the comics had been removed from FunnyJunk, but Inman pointed out dozens that were still there.” [The Guardian]
Attorney Charles Carreon is the gift that keeps on giving for comics and law bloggers alike.
He’s the lawyer for the website FunnyJunk, which allows users to upload content they find amusing. About a year ago, The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman blasted FunnyJunk for posting a number of his comics without his permission. Two weeks ago, Carreon sent Inman a letter threatening to sue for defamation if he did not pony up $20,000. Inman posted the letter with some snarky commentary and set up a fundraiser on IndieGoGo to raise $20,000. His plan is to send a photo of the money, together with a rude cartoon about the mother of the FunnyJunk owner, to Carreon and donate the cash to the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation. More than $200,000 has already been pledged in the fund-raiser. But on Friday, Carreon sued Inman, IndieGoGo, and both charities.
Here’s a quick roundup of recent developments:
FunnyJunk attorney Charles Carreon has sued not just The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman, with whom he has been in an Internet battle for the past week, but also crowd-funding website Indiegogo, where Inman set up a fund-raiser to spite Carreon — and, apparently, the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation, who are the beneficiaries of the campaign.
Here’s the Courthouse News Service summary of the filing, posted by Ken at Popehat:
“Trademark infringement and incitement to cyber-vandalism. Defendants Inman and IndieGogo are commercial fundraisers that failed to file disclosures or annual reports. Inman launched a Bear Love campaign, which purports to raise money for defendant charitable organizations, but was really designed to revile plaintiff and his client, Funnyjunk.com, and to initiate a campaign of “trolling” and cybervandalism against them, which has caused people to hack Inman’s computer and falsely impersonate him. The campaign included obscenities, an obscene comics and a false accusation that FunnyJunk “stole a bunch of my comics and hosted them.” Inman runs the comedy website The Oatmeal.”
This sounds outrageous on the face of it — who sues the American Cancer Society? — but when blogger Nick Nafpliotis called Carreon and asked why he is trying to shut down the fund-raiser, he responded that Inman and Indiegogo had not filed the proper paperwork, and thus they could just raise the money and pocket it themselves. It’s a fair point, although given the highly public nature of this event, it’s unlikely that Inman would do that. In other words, it’s a technicality. Carreon also took exception to Inman’s public mockery of him:
Awards | Frank Doyle, who wrote thousands of Archie Comics scripts, and Steve Skeates, who wrote for both Marvel and DC Comics, will be honored with this year’s Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. Both were chosen by a unanimous vote of a committee headed by Mark Evanier. The awards will be presented July 13 during the Eisner Awards ceremony at Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Comic-Con International]
Legal | The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman’s war with Funnyjunk has heated up the Internets over the past few days, but Andrew Orlowski questions why Inman didn’t simply send FunnyJunk a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when he realized his comics were being posted without permission. “Without the DMCA, Inman found himself in a knife fight armed with just a stick of celery,” Orlwoski said, and he blames his failure to use it on “nerd web culture.” “Inman didn’t use the ammunition available to him at all — he simply decided to play the victim. Whether he did so through naivety, ignorance or cynicism, it is impossible to say.” [The Register]
Charles Carreon may be a good lawyer, but he has a tin ear when it comes to public relations.
Carreon represents FunnyJunk, which recently demanded that The Oatmeal cartoonist Matthew Inman pay $20,000 or be sued for defamation for complaining that the website permitted users to post his comics without permission. Inman responded by posting the letter on his own site with a series of scornful rejoinders, and then set up an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $20,000 for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society.
His plan is to take a photo of the cash and send it, along with a drawing of the FunnyJunk owner’s mother attempting to seduce a bear, to the owner of FunnyJunk. The Internet reacted predictably, and Inman has raised more than $125,000 for the two causes, while FunnyJunk and Carreon have attracted, shall we say, a great deal of negative attention.
How could Carreon possibly make this situation worse for himself and his client? By whining and acting like a jerk, that’s how. He told Rosa Golijian of MSNBC’s Digital Life that he had to take his contact information off his website (oh noes!) because of the “string of obscene emails” he received.
And then he asked IndieGoGo to terminate Inman’s fund-raiser, alleging it violates the website’s terms of service. That’s right, Inman raises more than $100,000 for wildlife protection and cancer research, but FunnyJunk’s attorney is going to shut him down.
Or not. Inman doesn’t seem worried; he’s more concerned about whether his bank will let him take out $100,000 so he can photograph it with his rendition of the mother of FunnyJunk’s mother and a bear.
One more thing: Sending the owner of FunnyJunk that cartoon may turn out to be a good deed; after all this attention, he could probably turn around and sell it for enough money to hire another lawyer.
The old definition of chutzpah is a man who murders his parents and throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.
The new definition is what the website FunnyJunk has done: It allowed hundreds of The Oatmeal comics to be posted without permission, and then when creator Matthew Inman complained, the site demanded he pay them $20,000 or be sued in federal court for defamation.
Yeah, you read that right.