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Comics Should Be Good Mailbag for 12/10

Here, on our fourth anniversary, is the latest installment of a weekly reader interactive segment on the blog, where I answer reader-submitted e-mails to bcronin@comicbookresources.com (and also post other e-mails that I receive).

Enjoy!

We have a Storytelling Engine from John Seavey basically every week, but awhile back, he ran out of comic books to do new Storytelling Engines for (there will be more in the future as new collections get released, he just ran out of available comics at the time), so he moved on to Storytelling Engines for stuff beyond just comic books, and I’ve continued to keep them at the blog, so long as they have SOME comic book involvement (which, due to the licensing boom, is basically every media property). This week, however, John had his first Storytelling Engine without a comic tie-in at all. I still feel like linking to it (as it’s a neat piece), so check out John’s take on The Critic at his blog, fraggmented.blogspot.com, here.
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“Voodoo Mama” of the Voodoo Dolls, a trivia team, is looking for members to join their team for KVSC’s XXX Trivia: 30 Years of Trivia Lovin’, a local Minnesota trivia contest held each February that has, in recent years, gone national (heck, I suppose even international, as you can be on a team via the internet).

Check out KVSC’s website for more details. The contest began in 1980, so this is, indeed, the thirtieth year they’ve done this contest! Wow!

Since it is a team e-mail, I don’t think there’s really much harm if I give you folks their e-mail address to contact them if you’re interested – it’s voodoodolls at charter.net.

I once did a trivia thing in college, and I did well (My pal Tim was freakishly good, though – wow, did that guy know him some trivia), but I also ended up blowing the game at the buzzer, which was too bad.
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A person named “Ronn” asked:

I am playing on a game called city of heroes and its a super hero game based on making your own characters with powers and costumes and back stories and such. I am wondering if the name Marvel Boi is a trademark. I know that Marvel Boy is a Marvel trademark but i want to use the name with the i at the end of it. is this trademark infringement? just wanted to ask and hopefully you can help me before i do.

Without putting a lot of research into it, Ronn, I think it’s not infringement, on the theory that you are not using the name “in commerce” (as you playing the game is not use in commerce). HOWEVER, I do know that City of Heroes was sued by Marvel under the notion that City of Heroes allowing (heck, in Marvel’s view, ENCOURAGING) players to use names similar to Marvel’s trademarks WOULD be a “use in commerce.” That lawsuit settled (most likely because the use in commerce thing was a BIT of a stretch) but while they settled, I believe City of Heroes strongly recommends people not even come close to trademarked names.

But I dunno – I don’t play the game. Does anyone who plays the game know if they discourage players to use names similar to trademarked names?

If this was a standard infringement case, I think you WOULD be considered infringing on Marvel’s trademark (like, let’s say you wanted to do a Marvel Boi comic book). The use in commerce thing is your defense here – but really, if City of Heroes wants people not to come close, I think you’re better off just picking a different name.

I’d say, “Does anyone else have an opinion on this?,” but let’s be real, do I even need to ask?

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Tim (AKA Blackjak) wrote in to say:

When you covered the Marvel covers recently, you mentioned that you wanted to see some Clint Langley interiors…

Amazon have three hardcover 2000AD collections – the three-parts of “Slaine: The Books of Invasions”, written by Pat Mills.

Irish epic sword and sorcery. May not be your cup of tea, but there is some gorgeous artwork in there…

Thanks, Tim!

You scare me for a moment – I thought, “Wait, I read the first Slaine stories – Clint Langley couldn’t have drawn them!!” But then I realized you meant NEWER Slaine stuff!

The covers certainly look cool!
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Alan David Doane takes a look at his picks for Best Comics of 2008 here.
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Becca sent me this link to a video on her blog of a bunch of black female superheroines (from comics, TV and movies).

It was, well, a video of a bunch of black female superheroines from comics, TV and movies.

Here is the link.
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The Mutt has a great question:

The idea that the very existence of superheroes creates super villains has been conventional wisdom in comics for a while, but is there a particular writer or story that first postulated the notion?

I really don’t know.

This is the sort of thing that is best left to people posting the first time THEY saw it, and whoever is the earliest, then that can be our answer!!
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Nice publicist Margot sent along a link to a contest the Wanted DVD is having over at newsarama. Here‘s the link! The winner gets to meet Mark Millar in Scotland!
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That’s it for this week!

Send more e-mails!

If you do, be sure to send me an e-mail to bcronin@comicbookresources.com with the subject heading “Mailbag” if you want to be included in next week’s mailbag!

11 Comments

I’m an avid City of Heroes player, and while I try to make only original characters, I’ve followed some discussions on their forums about copyright issues. I’d say that “Marvel Boi” is probably going to attract some attention from the moderators, depending on what the character looks like. If he looks like Vance Astro, any version of Captain Marvel, or any version of DC’s Marvel family, you’re going to get generic’ed. (City of Heroes doesn’t delete offending characters, they replace the name with something like “Generic Hero 937406″.) Likeness has a lot to do with it, though. If you create a character named “Super-Guy,” with blue tights and a red cape, you’re in trouble. The same name would be OK if the character wears, say, purple tech armor.

In short, the “in commerce” defense doesn’t fly for City of Heroes characters, because all characters are property of NCSoft, not the player, being used in a game, which makes them “in commerce.” City of Heroes has the most elaborate character creator of any game I’ve seen, and they add more options constantly. Although the temptation to re-create your favorite comic-book hero is strong, there are so many options for creativity, it’d be a shame not to explore them.

Right, Brian, the “use in commerce” would apply to the people who run the game, that’s why i was telling Ronn he didn’t have to worry about it himself – if anyone had to worry about it, it would be the people who run the game (which is why I figure they likely would tell people not to do it, because, well, why risk it?).

I’ll go ahead and suggest that it was Elliott Maggin that suggested the heroes-create-villains idea. He was kind of edging up to it in “Must There Be A Superman?” or whatever that early story was with the Guardians of Oa, but really hit it head-on in his novel Last Son of Krypton in the late 70′s.

I don’t know who co-opted the idea for Batman, though, which is really where it started getting the workout.

Though “Marvel Boi” would be an especially tempting target for Marvel Comics, given how much effort they went to in making sure all comics-related uses of the word “Marvel” are treated as trademark infringements.

I am a CoH player too. If your character looks anything like Vance Astro, and/or has powers like his, you’ll be in trouble. However, if you are (say, for example) an Assault Rifle / Devices blaster who looks like Duke Nukem, they won’t care that your name is Marvel Boi.

Hmmmm… the “heroes create villains” notion sounds like something J. Jonah Jameson might have pushed, but I couldn’t say for certain that he has. By the 80s it was certainly linked with Batman quite a bit, but I couldn’t point to an author.

It was probably Miller who Batmanized the idea: the first place I can remember it was from the lip of the psychiatrist in Dark Knight Returns.

Although, now that I think of it, it might have also shown up earlier in one of the Earth-Prime Ultraa JLA stories as well, as the reasoning for why Ultraa had to leave his home dimension…

The trivia link goes nowhere. Nowhere!

It goes somewhere now!

Oh, and the inside of the new Slaine books is all just as fully-painted as the covers…

I know he’s done more, but it escapes me at the moment…

>>>Hmmmm… the “heroes create villains” notion sounds like something J. Jonah Jameson might have pushed

Although this would be quite a hypocritical line for him to take, considering that he himself directly contributed to the creation of the Scorpion back in ASM #20. He later resigned from the Bugle after admitting his role in the Scorpion’s creation in a front-page editorial in the Daily Bugle, somewhere around ASM #250-251.

I’m exercising my Spider-Man continuity muscles today.

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