SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
No matter how hectic or crappy your day is, the two minutes or so you spend watching this video will make it infinitely better.
As part of its “Show Your Disney Side” promotional campaign, Walt Disney World Resort surprised shoppers at a Long Island, New York, mall with a hidden-camera prank. As the unsuspecting visitors pass by the covered glass of the “Umbra Penumbra Magic Shop,” they’re surprised to see they cast some awfully familiar shadows — Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Anna and Cinderella, among them (umbra and penumbra are two parts of a shadow).
Eighty-six years ago today, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse made their official debut in “Steamboat Willie,” the 1928 animated short that helped to launch an entertainment empire (their actual first appearance was in a May 1928 test screening of “Plane Crazy”).
To celebrate the occasion, Biography has released a history of Mickey Mouse (sorry, Minnie), highlighting the iconic character’s origins, his 1935 makeover, and his promotional role during World War II.
Disney, meanwhile, sent a rickshaw-driving Mickey on a trip across India for his birthday in a new animated short called “Mickey Mumbai Madness,” which debuted today on Disney Channel India (you can watch it below, along with “Steamboat Willie”).
When we last left Deadmau5, the world-famous DJ/producer was publicly accusing Disney of copyright infringement in retaliation for the entertainment giant’s effort to block the trademark for his signature “mau5head” logo. At 171 pages, the company’s notice of opposition was certainly thorough, but that’s nothing compared to the DJ’s formal response.
Hollywood Esq. reports that on Monday, Deadmau5 filed more than 1,000 pages — when you take exhibits into account — with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, addressing not only the drier issues of whether his logo might be confused with Disney’s famed mouse ears, but also some considerably more interesting matters.
The publisher’s IDW Limited program, which produces small print runs of deluxe editions, will also offer select collections geared to Disney devotees, while the fledgling Micro Comic Fun Packs line will market multiple properties to a mass audience, complete with minicomics, stickers and posters.
In addition, IDW’s celebrated Library of American Comics will collect the newspaper strips that have featured Disney characters (there’s a long line of them, dating to the early 1930s with Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphony and, toward the end of the decade, Donald Duck).
“There’s nothing quite like Disney,” IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams said in a statement. “Despite the fact that nearly all of the titles in its library were originally intended for kids, adult collectors have long sought high quality and regularly published collections of classic Disney material. IDW is thrilled to present these beloved stories in quality packages for both entry level comics readers and serious collectors alike.”
The publisher also announced it has expanded its partnership with Marvel for its Artist’s Edition line, which already includes such collections as Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor, John Romita’s The Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1 & 2), Steranko: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Covers Artist’s Edition.
Bristling for a fight with Disney over its bid to prevent him from trademarking his signature mouse-head logo, DJ/producer Deadmau5 has wasted no time in returning fire.
Rolling Stone reports the progressive-house performer is accusing the entertainment giant of using one of his songs in an animated short without permission. Linking to a Disney.com video featuring footage from classic Mickey Mouse cartoons set to the tune of Deadmau5’s 2009 track “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff,” the DJ tweeted, “Okay mouse, I never gave Disney a liscene [sic] to use my track. So. we emailed you a C&D.”
Disney is attempting to prevent DJ/producer Deadmau5 from trademarking his signature mouse-head logo, claiming it’s too similar to the iconic Mickey Mouse silhouette. Signs that the entertainment giant would oppose the application surfaced in late March.
In a staggering 171-page notice of opposition filed Tuesday with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and first reported by TMZ, Disney traces its use of the familiar imagery back to “at least 1928,” with the introduction of Mickey in Steamboat Willie. Disney news site Stitch Kingdom has more details about the filing, in which the company argues the mouse ears have been a key element of its consumer products “at least as early as 1955″ (that’s the year The Mickey Mouse Club premiered on television).
In order to find a home for Mickey Mouse on the comics page, cartoonist Floyd Gottfredson and his cadre of artists had to change things around a bit. The freewheeling, anarchic, carefree, gag-filled attitude of the cartoons was slowly replaced with fast-paced adventures stories, and while Mickey’s basic nature didn’t change much from the cartoons to the newspaper page, he did become tougher, pluckier and wilier. Gottfredson never abandoned the slapstick antics of the cartoons, but instead integrated it into the daily strip. Never the focal point, instead it was one of many elements used to keep readers engaged.
Although the history of The Walt Disney Company has been thoroughly documented over the past nine decades, its archives still contain a few surprises.
Take, for instance, a newly uncovered sketch from 1938’s “Mickey’s Toothache,” an incomplete animated short that found our hero enduring what’s described as “a psychedelic nightmare” after inhaling too much laughing gas during a dentist’s visit. Disney Archives Director Becky Cline explains to Yahoo! News that as a result of the overdose, Mickey is plopped into a “nightmarish world inhabited by living teeth, dental floss, a psychotic dentist’s chair and a vengeful pair of dental pliers.” It sounds vaguely similar to 1935’s “Mickey’s Garden.”
If it’s Saturday, it must be Shelf Porn, and today’s collection comes from Alfred Day. Alfred shows us his office, which features some nicely displayed shelves of statues, comics and more.
If you’d like to submit your collection to Shelf Porn, scroll down to the end of the post to find out how. Now let’s hear from Alfred …
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 had $15, I’d spend the first $3.99 on the first issue of 47 Ronin, a retelling of a Japanese legend written by Mike Richardson and illustrated by Stan Sakai. I saw a preview of this and it looks phenomenal. Next up is my favorite soap opera, Life With Archie #24 ($3.99), in which Moose contemplates running for the Senate and The Archies reunite. This comic is consistently well written and the stories really drag me in. I’ll slap down another $3.99 for Popeye #7, because I’m a Roger Langridge fan. And because I love a bargain, I’ll finish up with Freelancers #1, a new series from BOOM! Studios that looks kinda fun — and hey, there’s a variant cover by Felipe Smith, one of my favorite manga artists.
If I had $30, I’d revert to my childhood and pick up the Doctor Who Annual ($12.99) from Penguin. When I was a kid, the British comics annuals were the high point of the holidays, and I’m pretty sure I have a vintage Doctor Who one tucked away somewhere. It’s probably aimed at kids but that just means I can share it with my nephew and nieces.
The splurge item to get this week is the new box set of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. This is Miyazaki’s longest manga by far, and the story continues after the movie ends. It’s going to be the same large format as Viz’s earlier box set, but the seven volumes are being bound as two this time. It’s $60, but I noticed Amazon is offering a steep discount, so I’ll add another splurge: Nickolai Dante: Sympathy for the Devil ($29.99), a story that ran in 2000AD. I saw artist Simon Fraser describe it at NYCC this way: “Nikolai Dante is a swashbuckling hero from the far, far future, the year 2666, where he is alternately working for and against the czar, and for his own family and against his family, and in the meantime trying to get as drunk and screw as many women as he possibly can.” Sold!
Fantagraphics has made a number of notable publishing announcements over the past few weeks, but the new release of its spring/fall catalog reveals even more intriguing books coming down the pike next year. I thought I’d take it upon myself to run through what I feel are some of the more interesting titles scheduled for 2013, avoiding some of the more expected titles, like the new Donald Duck or Steve Ditko collections, or paperback editions of previously released material. If all goes well, I hope to do this sort of thing again with other small press publishers as we get closer to the end of the year.
The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley by Kim Deitch. Deitch’s latest graphic novel (his first original one, his previous works having been serialized in anthologies and other series) concerns a young actress in early 20th century America who gets a plum role in a movie serial, only to discover all is not what it seems. Could alleged recordings of Christ made centuries before the invention of recorded sound be somehow involved? Could be! Printed in landscape format to give that “widescreen” feel. April, $29.99.
Bread and Wine by Samuel R. Delaney and Mia Wolff. Apparently this was published back in 1999, although this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it. Famed science-fiction author Delaney chronicles his romance with a young homeless man, with Wolff providing art. April, $14.99
This may not technically be comics-related, but Disney’s Mouse and Duck characters are almost as well-known for their comics incarnations as for their animated short films. And the issues raised by corporate watchdog movement Sum of Us are related to concerns that get discussed in the comics community.
What’s going on is that Barneys department store has partnered with Disney to create a holiday campaign called “Electric Holiday.” The store will host window displays that will turn classic Disney characters like Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck and Goofy into runway supermodels. Of course, there will be exclusive, Disney-themed designer fashions in the store as well.
The creative problem, as Barneys creative director Dennis Freedman describes it, is that “the standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress.” He adds, “If we’re going to make this work, we have to have a 5-foot-11 Minnie.”
That’s not cool with Sum of Us, which describes the designs as “stretched out, unrealistically skinny, and aimed at young women.” The group writes, “Young girls are already bombarded with waif bodies and impossible figures, contributing to soaring cases of anorexia, bulimia, and other dangerous eating disorders. Now Disney is using children’s cartoon characters to promote the least realistic, unhealthiest body image yet.”
DC Comics, Disney and Sanrio have sued a California birthday party entertainment company for copyright and trademark infringement, alleging that it’s using counterfeit costumes of such well-known characters as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Superman, Wonder Woman and Hello Kitty.
Law 360 reports that the lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles, accuses Party Animals and owner Jason Lancaster of using and renting costumes resembling the companies’ characters and logos for birthday and corporate parties, in violation of copyright and trademark laws.
“[Party Animals] is actively selling, offering for sale, renting, distributing or manufacturing unlicensed and counterfeit costumes, which incorporate unauthorized likenesses of the animated or live action characters or other logos owned by plaintiffs,” the complaint said. “[The] defendants have never been authorized by the plaintiffs to distribute the plaintiffs’ copyrighted properties.”
Legal | Human Rights Watch reports on the lawsuit filed by Malaysian cartoonist Zunar after he was arrested and his books seized by authorities. The court ruled that while the arrest, on grounds of sedition and publishing without a license, was lawful, the government’s continued possession of his materials was not. Zunar was never formally charged — a judge threw the arrest out after authorities could not point to any actual seditious material in his book, Cartoon-O-Rama — and therefore, the court ruled, the government had no right to continue to hold the books and must return them and pay him damages to boot. [Human Rights Watch, via The Daily Cartoonist]
Legal | Rich Johnston reports that copies of Howard Chaykin’s super-erotic Black Kiss 2 have been held at the border by U.K. customs. Diamond Comic Distributors is in talks with customs officials and hopes to get the books into the country next week. [Bleeding Cool]
Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.
To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.