Legal | Both Warner Bros. and automobile customizer Mark Towle have filed for summary judgment in the studio’s 2011 copyright-infringement lawsuit against Towle, whose Gotham Garage sold several replicas of the Batmobile. Warner, the parent company of DC Comics, claims the design of the Batmobile is its intellectual property, while Towle argues that copyright law does not regard a “useful object,” such as a car, as a sculptural work and therefore the design can’t be copyrighted. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Crime | Police in Lincoln, Nebraska, are investigating the theft of 600 X-Men comics, dating back to the 1970s, from the communal storage area of an apartment building. [Journal Star]
Legal | A Belgian court of appeals has ruled that Tintin in the Congo is not racist and stated that the book has “gentle and candid humour.” The ruling came in a case brought in 2007 by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, an immigrant from the Congo, and the Belgian Council of Black Associations. Although Herge himself expressed regret in later life for the book, which includes numerous depictions of black characters as stupid and inferior, the court did not support the plaintiffs’ claim that “The negative stereotypes portrayed in this book are still read by a significant number of children. They have an impact on their behaviour.” [Sky News]
At the MoCCA Festival panel on running a comics shop, the topic of Before Watchmen came up as part of a discussion of pull lists. Tucker Stone, manager of Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn, volunteered that his store wouldn’t be ordering the miniseries except for those customers who’ve already requested it.
ComiXology’s David Steinberger was in the audience and asked Stone to clarify why that was. “We’re gonna lose money,” Stone said. “We’ll probably lose customers. It was a decision that was made.”
I wasn’t there, and it’s difficult for me to interpret Stone’s additional comments without hearing his tone of voice or reading his body language, but based on the panel report, it sounds like this was a decision that wasn’t without controversy even among Bergen Street’s staff. Stone continued, “When I heard that decision, I said that’s a bad idea. That’s an explanation that I’ll have to give over and over again.” But, “as time has gone on, as I’ve seen online response to that project … This is just gross, and we don’t want to be part of this one. We’ll participate with the grossness they did to Kirby on the Avengers books, but this one …”
Heidi MacDonald attended the panel and reports that her tweets about it “got a vociferous response from pros and retailers alike who felt that Bergen Street was being irresponsible and leaving money on the table.” That raises some interesting questions about the role of retailers in creators’ rights issues. Should shop owners serve their own sense of right and wrong (not that all retailers agree about what that looks like in this situation) or does that not matter compared to the mandate to serve the customer? I don’t feel qualified to cast judgment either way until I have a comics shop and a family and employees that depend on how I run it, but it’s fascinating to think about.
Comics shops uniquely personify the struggle many comics fans are experiencing as they think about these things. Which matters more: creators’ rights or my right to read what I want?
(John Douglas’ Watchmen Too: The Squid cover from Relaunched!.)
Photo time once again! I had a marvelous time this past Saturday at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival and thought I’d share some pictures I snapped of the proceedings during my brief time there. Click on the jump link to see the whole shebang.
The latest episode of Robin McConnell’s indispensable comics podcast Inkstuds is a fun one: It’s a critics’ roundtable on the best comics of 2010, featuring Chris Butcher, Bill Kartalopoulos, and Tucker Stone. It’s a rare treat to hear any of these guys talk at length about great comics: Tucker is the busy manager of Brooklyn’s Bergen Street Comics and divides most of his writing time these days between film, music, and kicking the crap out of the latest Wednesday shipment; old-school comics blogospherian Chris has mostly moved away from criticism in favor of running Toronto’s beloved Beguiling comics shop and organizing TCAF; and Bill’s thoughts on comics are generally reserved for the lucky few who take his classes at Parsons, sit in on the panels he organizes and moderates for SPX and BCGF, or visit the comic art exhibitions he curates. To hear the three of them bat around the likes of Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza, Brecht Evens’s The Wrong Place, Dash Shaw’s Bodyworld, Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions, the comics of Michael DeForge, Charles Burns’s X’ed Out, and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 is to hear three great comics minds pull apart what worked — and what didn’t — in some of the year’s most notable and forward-looking releases. Standout moments include Bill’s point on how improved color reproduction has given artists the freedom to do more with color than simply filling in the lines, Chris’s admission that he’s just never been in the right place to read Footnotes, and Tucker’s arguments for why both of Los Bros Hernandez handed in some of their best-ever work in the latest L&R.
A great comic review can make you feel like you’ve read the book without showing you so much as a panel…but, y’know, showing a panel really can’t hurt. And three recent reviews — Tucker Stone on Taiyo Matsumoto’s Blue Spring, Charles Hatfield on Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions, and Noah Berlatsky on Junji Ito’s Uzumaki — really struck me with their well-selected spot art. A glance at each review’s illustrations — dynamic, sexy, and horrific respectively — can probably tell you whether these books are the kind of thing you wanna check out, which is great, because each review is a solid examination of what makes them worth checking out in the first place. Click the links, feast your eyes, and see what you think.