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Evian TV spot introduces the world to the Amazing Spider-Baby

spider-baby

If you were surprised by that promotional campaign by Sony Pictures and the United States Postal Service featuring Stan Lee and Spider-Man, you may want to sit down for this one: Evian stakes out its own Amazing Spider-Man 2 tie-in with a commercial that introduces the world to Spider-Baby, a web-slinging, rope-skipping, dancing infant-sized mirror version of the wall-crawler. The TV spot is either inspired, or completely insane, I can’t decide.

Titled “The Amazing Baby & Me 2,” it’s the latest commercial in Evian’s “Live Young” campaign (aka the baby series).

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Disney demands an end to Stan Lee Media ‘frolic’

disney-marvel-logoFrustrated by what it calls Stan Lee Media Inc.’s “vexatious litigation,” Disney asked a federal judge on Friday to “end this SLMI-financed frolic and detour once and for all.”

Filed in federal court in Philadelphia, and first reported by Deadline, Disney’s reply is the latest volley in what began last summer as a relatively straightforward lawsuit against the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre, which was accused of using unlicensed elements from Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King.

However, as the media giant’s attorneys later noted, that “simple case” was “transmogrified” with the surprising assertion that the theater had licensed Spider-Man … from Stan Lee Media, which was named in a third-party counterclaim (it should be noted the license was obtained after Disney filed suit).

The failed dot-com, which hasn’t been connected to its co-founder and namesake in more than a decade, in turn sued Disney on Feb. 7, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, and, presumably, other characters co-created by Stan Lee. Disney responded with a motion to dismiss, which was of course opposed by SLMI; the company maintains none of the previous court cases has directly addressed ownership of the characters.

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee Media, Spider-Man & ‘litigation finance’

Spider-Man

Spider-Man

Legal | Those wondering how Stan Lee Media can possibly afford its long, and so far entirely unsuccessful, legal battle with Marvel and Disney may want to read this brief Wall Street Journal article about “litigation finance” — which it characterizes as the growing practice of investing in lawsuits. However, pointing to the fight over the rights to Spider-Man and other characters, writer Rob Copeland points out there are high risks: namely, that investors could never see financial return. As we’ve noted before, Stan Lee Media’s efforts are backed by a group of investors that includes the $21 billion hedge fund Elliott Management, which helps to explain why the lawsuits keep coming. [MoneyBeat]

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Stan Lee and Spider-Man team up with U.S. Postal Service

asm2-post-office

It’s common for film studios to partner with fast-food chains, cereal manufacturers and soft-drink companies to help market major releases, but here’s a tie-in few likely expected: The United States Postal Service has teamed with Sony Pictures for a campaign to promote Priority Mail and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — and they’ve enlisted Stan Lee for a little help.

The effort launches with a television commercial (below), featuring appearances by both the wall-crawler and the legendary creator, and includes limited-edition Spider-Man shipping boxes, Spider-Man postage from self-service kiosks, and special signage that extends to USPS vehicles. The campaign will also cast a spotlight on “stories of ‘USPS super heroes’ – real-life Postal Service employees delivering for their customers.”

The TV spot was created by DNA Productions with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb and commercials/music video director Rich Lee.

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Spider-Man’s crime spree resumes with Florida store robbery

spider-robbery

Spider-Man had been a public menace for much of last year, getting into a confrontation with a women in Times Square, stealing $6,000 in cash and fighting two Captain Americas on Hollywood Boulevard before getting arrested in Pittsburgh following a store robbery. Heck, he was even blamed for the horrific violence in Venezuela. But in recent months the wall-crawler had appeared to give up his life of crime.

That changed last week when Spider-Man was captured on video robbing a 7-Eleven in Altamonte Springs, Florida, with the aid of a rifle and a masked sidekick, presumably one Andy Maguire, aka Alpha.

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Stan Lee Media fires back at Disney in fight over Spider-Man

spider-manFighting an effort to end its persistent claims to Spider-Man, the tenacious Stan Lee Media Inc. insists it’s up to Disney to prove ownership of the Marvel superhero.

In documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Philadelphia, the failed dot-com again argued that none of the previous cases over the past decade — and there have been many — has directly addressed the merits of its ownership claims. “No judge has decided that Disney actually owns the Spider‐Man copyrights or, for that matter, that SLMI does not own the copyrights,” the papers state. “[...] That issue has never been decided, and Disney has now placed it directly before the court in this case.”

“This case” is a copyright- and trademark-infringement involving the use of elements from Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in a musical revue staged by the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre. What Disney’s lawyers thought would be “a simple case” took an unexpected turn in November when the theater responded that it had licensed Spider-Man, from Stan Lee Media, which was named in a third-party counterclaim (the license was obtained after Disney filed suit). That opened the door for the company, which no longer has a connection to Stan Lee, to sue Disney, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, and, presumably, the other Marvel characters it’s sought since emerging from bankruptcy in 2006.

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Disney seeks to end Stan Lee Media’s pursuit of Marvel heroes

disney-marvel-logoAfter being pursued in court over the past seven years by Stan Lee Media, Marvel and its corporate parent Disney have had enough: On Valentine’s Day, the companies asked a federal judge to put a stop to the failed dot-com’s dogged claims of ownership of Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men and other lucrative characters.

Filed Friday in federal court in Philadelphia, and first reported by Hollywood, Esq., the motion to dismiss comes as part of what began in September as a seemingly straightforward copyright- and trademark-infringement lawsuit involving the use of elements from Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in a musical revue staged by the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre.

However, as Disney states in its filing, that “simple case” was “transmogrified” with the surprising assertion in November from the theater that it had licensed Spider-Man … from Stan Lee Media, which was named in a third-party counterclaim (it should be noted the license was obtained after Disney filed suit). That conveniently opened the door for the company, which no longer has a connection to its co-founder and namesake, to sue Disney on Feb. 7, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, and, presumably, other characters co-created by Stan Lee.

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Quote of the Day | Clancy Brown on comic adaptations

cowboys and aliensCowboys & Aliens was a completely manufactured myth of a comic book. They went in and sold the idea of Cowboys & Aliens based on a one-sheet of what they thought the cover of a comic book might be, then sold it as a movie, then created as a comic book. They backed in to the comic book part of it. The book itself isn’t actually very good. It’s worse than the movie.

I did another one like that — Hellbenders was an idea that J.T. Petty had, and he wrote it as a script. One of the producers got the idea to pitch it around as a comic book. As soon as something is a graphic novel or a comic book or has another life in a another medium, people sit up and take notice and are more willing to write the check.

I don’t know why that is — well, I think it’s obvious why that is: Because the traditional properties like Superman and Batman and the Marvel characters — Spider-Man and so on — they’re all money machines. So, people are trying to create that. [...] Everything is being optioned now to be turned into franchises because of the success of Walking Dead and a few that have made the transition. Mostly, people walk into a room and pitch a movie — and the first question if they don’t say it in the original pitch is, ‘Is this a graphic novel or comic?’ and of course you say, ‘Yes’.”

– actor Clancy Brown, who has a good deal of experience with comic-book adaptations, discussing Cowboys & Aliens Hollywood’s continued attraction to comics

Stan Lee Media steps into licensing dispute, sues Disney

marvel superheroes

Continuing its long, and so far wholly unsuccessful, fight for ownership of many of Marvel’s best-known characters, the tenacious Stan Lee Media has sued a Walt Disney Co. subsidiary, seeking to join a dispute about licensing Spider-Man for the stage.

In September, Disney Enterprises, Marvel and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. sued Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre, saying it violated copyrights and trademarks by using elements of Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in its musical revue Broadway: Now and Forever (Disney and Mackintosh jointly hold the copyright to the Mary Poppins stage production). The theater responded in November with the surprising claim that Disney doesn’t own Spider-Man. Instead, the counterclaim stated, the character belongs to Stan Lee Media, which licensed the rights to the American Music Theatre.

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Quote of the Day | Tom Brevoort on character ‘oversaturation’

Art by Paolo Rivera

Art by Paolo Rivera

“If you’d asked me several years ago, I likely would have spoken about some tipping point where you have too much and everything crashed. Part of that is that I grew up in a world where there was one X-MEN book, one AVENGERS book and, well, three SPIDER-MAN books (counting MARVEL TEAM-UP.) But today, I think that, while there is a tipping point potentially somewhere out there on the horizon, it’s nowhere near as close as we sometimes like to think (or fear.) What matters is the quality of the work. How many BATMAN books are there at this point, every month? How many WOLVERINE books? And still, those characters are more likely to sell better than, I don’t know, THE FLASH or STORM. The audience likes what it likes, and so long as what you produce is good, they will always be content to have more. It’s when the quality goes down that you have a problem — but you have that problem with there being only one book as well.”

Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, responding to a question on his Formspring about how to address character “oversaturation,” if it’s even an issue that exists

Jake Parker takes on Hulk, Spider-Man, other Marvel heroes

HulkParker-banner

A few months back Utah-based freelance designer and comics artist Jake Parker revealed a series of Marvel characters he drew–Captain America, Wolverine and Iron Man among them — for his followers to enjoy. At that time, he asked readers to suggest other characters to add to the series. The past week and this week he revealed Spider-Man and Hulk pieces he completed in response to feedback.

It is particularly interesting to see how Parker uses one dominant color to tie each piece together with the respective characters’  costumes.

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Batman and Robin vs. Spider-Man in world’s nerdiest MMA match

batman-vs-spidey

As we’re unlikely to get another Marvel/DC Comics crossover any time soon, this video of the dorkiest MMA match ever may be the best opportunity to witness Spider-Man go toe-to-toe with Batman and Robin.

At first blush, you may think the highlight of the fight is the introduction of the World’s Scrawniest Detective or the early exit by the injured Boy Wonder, but I would argue it’s the hilariously straightforward play-by-play from the British commentators. For instance, “Nice mobility from Spider-Man. I mean, I noticed he was at a disadvantage initially because he didn’t have his web-shooters — he wasn’t allowed those, which I think is a bit unfair given the circumstances that he’s against two of them.” Or, “That’s a Superman punch there, Will, which is ironic seeing as how he’s Spider-Man from Marvel Comics.”

Clearly, the announcers were in Spider-Man’s corner from the start …

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Adorable ‘power couple’ souvenirs from Andie Tong’s wedding

andie tong9

It wasn’t that long ago that we showcased Paolo Rivera’s amazing Herge-inspired wedding invitation, and now we have some terrific souvenirs from the ceremony of Andie Tong.

The artist, whose work ranges from Spectacular Spider-Man (U.K.) to The Batman Strikes! to the upcoming Zodiac with Stan Lee and Stuart Moore, drew adorable “power couples” from comics and film for cards that were given to his wedding guests. Fans may quibble with Tong pairing Superman with Wonder Woman, rather than Lois Lane, but I imagine the guests were pleased with the favors.

With Tong’s permission, we’ve posted all of the illustrations below.

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Stan Lee Media takes another stab at Marvel character rights

Spider-manSay what you will about the shareholders of Stan Lee Media, but despite suffering one loss after another in their decade-long battle for the rights to Marvel’s best-known characters, they’re still unwilling to concede defeat.

In papers filed Tuesday in federal court in Philadelphia, and first reported by Deadline, the failed dot-com now seeks a declaratory judgment that it, and not Disney or Marvel, owns Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, Thor and other superheroes.

The move, which comes just three months after an annoyed federal judge dismissed their multibillion-dollar claim against Disney, springs from a lawsuit filed in September by the media giant against the American Music Theatre, which is accused of using elements of Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in a stage revue without permission. In a surprise twist, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based theater responded last month that it has a license to use Spider-Man and numerous other Marvel heroes — through an exclusive agreement with Stan Lee Media. Somewhat conveniently, American Music Theatre filed a third-party counterclaim against Stan Lee Media, opening the door for Tuesday’s filing.

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Comics A.M. | ‘The Dandy’ artist Charles Grigg passes away

Korky the Kat

Korky the Cat

Passings | Lew Stringer reports that British artist Charles Grigg died Wednesday at age 97. Grigg is probably best known for drawing Korky the Cat, whose adventures graced the cover of the weekly comic The Dandy for decades, and he drew a number of other strips for The Dandy and The Topper as well. After he retired he had a second career drawing naughty postcards. [Blimey!]

Retailing | The direct-market trade organization ComicsPRO has announced its annual membership meeting will be held Feb. 26-March 1 in Atlanta. [ICv2.com]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talked to students at Lakeland College recently and then sat down to answer some questions about his love of comics, how his depression affected his work, and whether he has any regrets about the way he portrayed his father in Maus. [The Lakeland Mirror]

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