Viz Media has inked a deal with “global lifestyle brand” Sanrio to publish a series of original Hello Kitty graphic novels, as well as a special-edition comic that will debut in July at Comic-Con International.
The single-volume comic will feature a cover by Eisner-nominated artist Jacob Chabot, with interior art by Victoria Maderna, Ian McGinty and Chabot. That will be followed in the fall by the release of Here We Go!, a collection of stories about Hello Kitty’s world travels and the first volume in the main graphic novel series.
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.”
What are they putting in the water at the Sanrio Corp? The parent company of Hello Kitty is letting its prize property wander off in some mighty odd directions: At Comic-Con International, the company mentioned a Hello Kitty/Street Fighter crossover, and now it’s Hello Kitty meets Tony Tony Chopper in a Sanrio/One Piece mashup. And that’s not all: Look for Luffy D. Monkey and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates, who will be entering the world of Hello Kitty for some good clean Kitty fun. Apparently this involves cross-species-dressing, and the pirates will have to figure out how to make do without knees or elbows, because it’s Kitty’s world, and they are only living in it. (Actually, I think it would be much more interesting to see One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda turn Hello Kitty into one of his exaggerated, energetic characters, but that’s just a pipe dream.) Watch for a wave of pirate-infested HK merch in fine import shops everywhere this fall.
Organizations | Friends of Lulu, the comics advocacy group whose struggles have come to light in recent months, is in danger of losing its tax-exempt status as a charitable organization. Johanna Draper Carlson reports the 16-year-old group appears on the Internal Revenue Service’s “List of Organizations at Risk of Automatic Revocation of Tax-Exempt Status,” which includes organizations “for which the IRS does not have a record of a required annual filing for 2007 and 2008, and whose 2009 return, due on or after May 17 and before October 15, 2010, has not yet been received.” [Comics Worth Reading]
Publishing | One year ago today, Disney announced its intent to acquire Marvel Entertainment. James Hunt looks back at the purchase and its effects: “A year on, the content of Marvel’s books has seen no significant shift. It’s true that the year-long ‘Dark Reign’ meta-arc has recently given way to a more upbeat, optimistic ‘Heroic Age’ meta-arc, where heroes are heroes and villains are villains, but mature readers comics such as Punishermax, Deadpoolmax and, yes, the sequel to Kick-Ass are all still coming out. If Miramax could aim its product at adults from within Disney’s backyard, so, it seems, can Marvel.” [Den of Geek]